INDEPTH: LOUISE ARBOUR
CBC News Online | Updated March 11, 2008
Louise Arbour (CP file photo)
Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour is best known as a chief prosecutor for tribunals into the genocide in Rwanda and human rights abuses in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. She earned an international reputation for courage and tenacity and gained the respect of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, as well as human rights groups around the world.
She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999. In February 2004, Arbour announced she would leave the Supreme Court to become the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She replaced Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003.
Feb. 10, 1947: Born in Montreal. Parents owned hotel chain. Attended convent school. Known for irreverence when editor of high school magazine.
1967: Graduated from Collège Régina Assumpta with BA.
1970: Graduated from Université de Montréal with degree in civil law (LL.L.)
1971-72: Served as law clerk for Justice Louis-Philippe Pigeon of the Supreme Court of Canada while completing graduate studies at the faculty of law (civil section) of the University of Ottawa.
1977: Admitted to the Ontario bar.
1974-1987: Held various positions during this period, including research officer for the Law Reform Commission of Canada, vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and associate dean of Osgoode Hall Law School.
1987: Appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario (High Court of Justice).
1990: Appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
1995: Appointed head of commission of inquiry to investigate and report on events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ont.
1996: Appointed chief prosecutor of war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
June 10, 1999: Appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. The appointment took effect on Sept. 15, 1999.
Feb. 20, 2004: Announced she would accept an appointment as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
December 2005 - Arbour's notable criticism of governments like those of Zimbabwe and China made her the victim of intense scrutiny. In particular, her condemnation of the war in Iraq drew anger from John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN at the time.
July 2006 - In a statement during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Arbour warned that "those in positions of command and control" might be subject to "personal criminal responsibility." These words were seen by many as directed towards Israel, and were rejected by Israel's ambassador to Canada. Arbour again stirred controversy when she initially refused to meet with the families of three kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Though Arbour relented to pressure caused by media reports, she was criticized for her initial reluctance to meet with the families.
November 2006 - In retaliation for her earlier comments on the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Arbour was heckled during a visit to the Israeli town of Sderot.
March 7, 2008 - Announced she would resign as UN human rights chief at the end of her first term, which concludes this June.