Arbour, Louise

 Louise Arbour, judge (b at Montréal, 10 Feb 1947). After studying at the all-women Catholic Collège Régina Assumpta in Montréal, she received a law degree with distinction at the Université de Montréal in 1970. She was law clerk to Mr Justice Louis-Philippe Pigeon of the Supreme Court of Canada 1971; a research officer at the Law Reform Commission of Canada 1972-73; and law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 1974-87, serving as associate dean in her final year there. As vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association 1985-87, she represented the association in cases where she contested the law shielding rape victims from revelations about their sexual history.

Arbour was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario (High Court of Justice) 1987-90, when she was elevated to the Court of Appeal for Ontario. In 1995-96 she conducted a tough enquiry into the conditions in the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ont, following that heightened public role with 3 high-profile years as the United Nations' chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. From 1996 to 1999, she was a dynamic international presence: attempting to build what she called a "law enforcement agency" for human rights, she secured the first conviction for genocide since the 1948 Genocide Convention (Rwanda) and the first-ever indictment for war crimes by a sitting European head of state (Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic).

In 1999, concluding that she had squeezed all she could out of a grudging international community more apt to lecture than to act on human rights, Arbour accepted PM Jean CHRÉTIEN's appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada on 10 June. On June 30, 2004, she retired and was appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations.