Saturday, April 18, 2015

Louise Arbour ~ A Woman of Distinction

Louise Arbour, CC GOQ (born February 10, 1947) was a former  justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and Court of Appeal for Ontario; in addition the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. From 2009 until 2014 she served as President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. She made history with the indictment of a sitting head of state, Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, as well as well as the first prosecution of sexual assault as per articles of crimes against humanity.

Early Life:  Born in Montreal, Quebec, she attended convent school.  In 1967, she graduated from College Regina Assumpta and proceeded to the Universite de Montreal where she completed her LL.B. with distinction in 1970.  She became Law Clerk for Mr. Justice Louis-Philippe Pigeon of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1971-1972 while completing graduate studies at the Faculty of Law (Civil Section) of the University of Ottawa.  She was called to the Bar of Quebec in 1971 and to the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1977 “for her contributions to the Canadian justice system and for her dedication to the advancement of human rights throughout the world.”  A Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2009...was also made a Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour in 2011.

She has received many honourary Degrees, including Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of Western Ontario in June 2000...Doctor of Humane Letters from Mount Saint Vincent University in May 2001...and Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of British Columbia in November 2001, the University of Waterloo in October 2006, in June 2009 from the University of Alberta and University of Guelph and from Simon Fraser University in October 2009.
She has 3 adult children: Emilie, Patrick and Catherine Taman.

“I'm very energized about the prospect of helping the country face some daunting challenges.
...and I'm guardedly optimistic about the enormous potential for positive change.”

Legal Career: (Canada)  From 1972-73, Louise Arbour was research officer for the Law Reform Commission of Canada.  She then taught at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, first as Lecturer (1974), then as Assistant Professor (1975), Associate Professor (1977-1987) and finally as Assistant Professor and Associate Dean (1987).  She was also Vice-President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association until her appointment to the Supreme Court of Ontario (High Court of Justice)  in 1987 and to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 1990.  In 1995, Arbour was appointed as President of a Commission of Inquiry, under the Inquiries Act, for the purpose of investing  and reporting on events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario, following allegations by prisoners of abuse.

In 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointed Arbour to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Hague: In 1996, following Richard Goldstone's recommendation, Arbour was appointed as his replacement as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal  for Rwanda in Arusha and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
“Do I believe that people indicted by the tribunal will be tried?
If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here.
Yes!  I believe they will be tried.”
  In her new capacity, she indicted then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes...the first time a serving head of State was called to account before an international court.  Also indicted were  the President of the Republic of Serbia...the  Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia...the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia...and the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.

Works and Awards:  Throughout her career, Arbour has published in the area of criminal procedure and criminal law, in both French and English.  At various times, she has served as an editor for the Criminal Reports...Canadian Rights Reporter...Osgoode Hall Law Journal.

Arbour has been awarded honourary doctorates by 27 universities.  In 2005, she was awarded the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights, along with Justice Richardstone, in recognition of her work on the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Louise Arbour is also the subject of a 2005 fact-based Canadian-German made-for-television movie, entitled 'Hunt for Justice' which follows her quest to indict Bosnian Serb criminals.  Arbour was played by Canadian actress.  Wendy Crewson.  (I comment here, that it was just this past week, that I viewed this movie on television...impressed greatly by Crewson's performance of this Woman of Distinction!)

Her Honours and Awards from 1992-2011 number over 40
including 1 of 7  inductees to Canada's Walk of Fame for 2014.

Quotes by Louise Arbour
Like many, I deplore the U.S. For their rejection
of the International Criminal Court ~ it seems that
clearly this debate will carry on.

Let us be clear ~ the proposal before the General Assembly
is the fruit of compromise.  It cannot be a perfect solution.

There are millions of people all over the world, right now,
who are looking to the United Nations for protection and redress
against the violation of their rights  and deprivation of their freedom.

* * * * * * *
“Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing
that you have received;  only what you have given:
a full heart...enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
(St. Francis of Assisi)

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.”
(Martin Luther King Jr.)

“True justice is the harvest reaped by peace-makers.”
(James chapter 3...verse 18)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written February 3, 2015
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