Press Release

Louise Arbour Takes Up Mandate of High Commissioner

1 July 2004

Louise Arbour takes up her duties today as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mrs. Arbour was, until June 2004, a member of the Supreme Court of Canada. She served as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda from 1996 to 2000, during which time she indicted former Yugoslav and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, among others, for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his part in atrocities committed in Kosovo. The indictment of Slobodan Milosevic was the first of a serving Head of State.

Mrs. Arbour was appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario after having served as a trial judge for the High Court of Justice for the Supreme Court of Ontario since 1987. She earned widespread recognition in Canada for her work at the head of an investigation into the operation of the correctional service, based on allegations by female inmates at a women’s prison in Kingston, Ontario.

Before 1987, she was an associate professor and associate dean at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. Throughout her academic and judicial career, Mrs. Arbour has published extensively in the area of criminal procedure, criminal law, human rights, civil liberties and gender issues.

Mrs. Arbour received her bachelor's degree from Quebec's College Regina Assumpta in 1967 and her LL.L from the Faculty of Law at the University of Montreal in 1970. She was called to the Quebec Bar in 1971 and the Ontario Bar in 1977. She received a Doctorate of Laws honoris causa from York University, and she also received the University Medal from the University of Montreal. Until her appointment to the bench, she was a vice president of the Canadian Liberties Association.