Saturday, March 8, 2008

Au revoir (presque) à Louise Arbour

Louise Arbour will step down from her position as U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights on June 30, thus concluding her 1st term in that position without seeking a 2d term.
Arbour (right) made the announcement yesterday, days after opening the current session in Geneva of of the Human Rights Council.
As did a recent predecessor in the position, former Irish President Mary Robinson (below), the Montreal-born Arbour (prior posts here) has called a number of countries on the carpet for pursuing policies that falls short of meeting international human rights obligations. They include China, Zimbabwe, and, the United States. Yesterday's N.Y. Times story wrote of her claim last year that
the so-called U.S. war on terror was eroding the worldwide ban on torture, noting reports of secret U.S. detention centers. John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, said it was 'inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we're engaged in the war on terror, with nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers.'
The same story said that Arbour -- who, as we've posted, was the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia responsible for the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and who also is a former Justice on Canada's Supreme Court -- said that family concerns and not criticism drove her decision:
She acknowledged that she found much of the criticism hurtful, but she said she was not quitting because of it. 'On the contrary, I have to resist the temptation to stay to confront it.'
Here's hoping her successor's another feisty steward of international human rights.

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