Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Louise Arbour to Step Down?

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Canadian Louise Arbour, is expected to resign soon after four contentious years in the post.

The former Supreme Court justice has been known for her clashes with the Bush regime over the Iraq war, the death penalty and American excesses in its "war on terror." From the Washington Post:

Arbour, "...said the U.S.-led counterterrorism struggle has set back the cause of human rights by "decades" and has exacerbated a "profound divide" between the United States, its Western allies and the developing world. "The war on terror has inflicted a very serious setback for the international human rights agenda," she said."

Arbour, a former U.N. war crimes prosecutor who secured the indictment of the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, said that bedrock principles once taken for granted -- including the prohibition against torture -- have been eroded, and that what she considers Washington's excesses have undercut her efforts to crusade for human rights, particularly in places where political repression is greatest.

Human rights advocates largely praised Arbour, a former Canadian Supreme Court justice, as a tough, principled lawyer who has offered the United Nations' most forceful critique of the United States' use of harsh interrogation techniques and the transfer of suspects to countries where they stand a chance of being tortured. They note that she has done more to expand the presence of U.N. rights monitors around the world, making reports on abuses from Baghdad to Katmandu routine.

But she has also been a lightning rod for American conservatives, including the former U.S. envoy to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, who scolded her in 2005 for using Human Rights Day to criticize U.S. anti-terrorism tactics instead of highlighting rights abuses by countries such as Burma, Cuba and Zimbabwe. Even supporters say she has trod lightly over abuses by some of the most powerful U.N. members, including China and Russia, leaving the United Nations increasingly silent on some of the world's most pressing human rights issues."

Needless to say her rumoured resignation will be welcome news to Washington and to human rights abusers worldwide. There's one Canadian we can all be very proud of. This country would do well with a lot more Arbours and a lot fewer like Harper, Levant and Flanagan.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully Arbours may return to Canada and take up the plight of Canadian children in proverty and force our government to look at what it is doing. It takes a community to raise a child but here, families are on their own. Reducing taxes does nothing to aid children but building and implimenting facilities such as better health care, a living wage and more money put into education is what makes a country healthy. Take a look at what Scandinavian countries do. Cheers

The Mound of Sound said...

She certainly has the experience, reputation and character to speak truth to power anywhere and certainly in her homeland. Yes, I think there's a lot she could do to advance her best causes here. Perhaps she could even revive the Kelowna Accord? I think the Tories would be terrified of confronting her but, sad to say, so would the Liberals.

Anonymous said...

Introducing the Liberal Party of Canada's candidate in Lasalle Emard.
This is a no brainer.

The Mound of Sound said...

That's what I was thinking also. She's the first person I've seen come along who impressed me with the intellect,courage and stature of Pierre Trudeau. Louise Arbour could give the Liberal party just what it most needs right now. Could you imagine her taking apart Harper, piece by piece? There's something to inspire.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that Dion will resign as leader to make way for Louise who will, once confirmed, ask Belinda to become Justice Minister?