Sunday, July 20, 2008

Exit Arbour, enter Pillay

Just days after the departure of Louise Arbour -- subject of this New York Times profile and this prior IntLawGrrls post -- comes news that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon likely will tap Navanethem Pillay (below right) as the next U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
As we've written, Pillay

'is a product of apartheid South Africa,' having been born in Natal in 1941, 1 of 4 daughters in a family headed by a bus driver. She was the 1st woman of color to start a law firm in her hometown.

Also the 1st black woman to be appointed to the High Court in South Africa, Pillay served as a Judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 1995 to 2003; the last 4 of those years she was the ICTR's President. Among her achievements at the ad hoc tribunal was to bring attention to gender-based violence. Since 2003, Pillay's been a Judge on the International Criminal Court.
Though she'd be the 1st human rights commissioner from Africa, and the 1st from a southern region outside South America, Pillay would not be the 1st woman human rights commissioner. Others among the 5 persons who've held the position include the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and, of course, Pillay's immediate predecessor, Arbour. (The latter 2 and 3 other international law women were honored in Vanity Fair last fall.)
Inspiring choices, all.

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