So it's official. Louise Arbour is stepping down this summer as UN High Commissioner for human rights. From the Globe & Mail:
"She didn't tell the council why she is stepping down, but she told a small group of reporters that she wanted to spend time with her family after four years of constant travel and long hours.
She acknowledged that she found much of the criticism had been hurtful, but she said, "I am not quitting because of this pressure. On the contrary, I have to resist the temptation to stay to confront it, she said.
"It is for personal reasons. I'm not prepared to make a commitment for another four years of this work. I have family. I have found myself working essentially all the time here, travelling, and very far from them. So I know I can't make the same kind of commitment for another four years. I'm going home, basically. It's pretty simple."
In her short, four years with the UN, Arbour has been a lightning rod for criticism from human rights abusers on all sides, running the gamut from Zimbabwe, China and Chechnya to Israel and the United States.
She drew plenty of praise from the human rights community:
"The criticism she receives is a tribute to the good work that she's been doing," said Amnesty International spokesman Peter Splinter.
"She's done a very good job. She's brought direction to the office. She's brought resources. She's been outspoken. She's been unflinching in challenging human rights violations in big and powerful countries as well as in countries not so big and not so powerful. It's going to be a real challenge for the secretary-general to replace her."
Her departure has got all the right-wing nutjobs in a tizzy with denunciations of her. She really seems to touch some powerful nerves with those who believe "our" side is beyond rebuke.