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Louise Arbor has fought for more than 50 years to enforce various concepts of international law humanitarian.


On February 20, 2004, Louise Arbor became United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This appointment is just one of the many fields of action where the jurist will work to ensure respect for human rights and international justice during her career.

On December 9, 2022, the anchor of Téléjournal 6 p.m.,Patrice Roy, meets Louise Arbor, considered one of Canada's greatest jurists.

Patrice Roy interviews jurist Louise Arbor about her career in applying international humanitarian law.

The interview begins with this question.

Louise Arbor, hello. […] You have had serious issues before you often in your life — former Yugoslavia, the Special Court, the Supreme Court, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the report on misconduct and sexual assault in the Canadian army — what is the common thread?

A quote from Patrice Roy

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Spontaneously, Louise Arbor identifies two: defending the rule of law and fighting against abuse of power.

The interview continues, covering multiple subjects which well summarize the career and thoughts of the woman of law.

Louise Arbor was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1971 and began her work as a lawyer and jurist.

At the start of her career, she was very active in teaching law in Ontario and at the Supreme Court of that province.

In 1995 and 1996, the Canadian public noticed her.

She then chaired the Commission investigation into the riot at the Kingston Women's Prison in Ontario.

The recommendations in its final report will lead to reform in the treatment of women incarcerated in federal prisons and the closure of the Kingston Institution.

Louise Arbor, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, is hunting down war criminals.

A quote from Stéphan Bureau, 1999

The anchor of the show Le Téléjournal/Le Period,presents us, on March 15, 1999, with an interview with Louise Arbor whose approach and determination are now known across the planet.

Stéphan Bureau interviews Louise Arbor on her role as prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

In 1996, she became a prosecutor for the Criminal Tribunals international institutions for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia (ICTR, ICTY).

With this mandate, Louise Arbor wants to bring to international justice those responsible for the atrocities perpetrated during the civil wars of the 1990s against the Rwandan and Yugoslav populations.

His action will lead to a revolution in international law.

In 1998, for the very first time in history, the ICTR convicted of crimes of war, genocide and crimes against humanity accused for the rapes and sexual violence he committed during the Rwandan civil war.

It is therefore in front of an extremely determined woman that Stéphan Bureau finds himself while he interviews her in the first courtroom of the ICTY.

Louise Arbor confirms to Stéphan Bureau that this room can be considered a laboratory for the application of international law.

After an interruption of almost half a century, she recalls, the United Nations is striving to bring back into force the concepts of humanitarian law, in particular war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Louise Arbor then describes the difficulties she encounters in her work.

First there is the painful exercise of identifying victims on the ground in mass graves.

The other obstacle is political.

In March 1999, Louise Arbor intended to bring before international justice those responsible for the abuses committed against the population of Kosovo, which was then part of the former Yugoslav Republic of Serbia.

However, the Serbian government, led by President Slobodan Milosevic, categorically refuses to collaborate with the prosecutor.

What Stephan Bureau does not know when he does his interview is that a few weeks later, Louise Arbor would engage in a battle to end with the Serbian leader.

On May 27, 1999, the planet, stunned, learned that the ICTY formally indicted President Slobodan Milosevic for multiple abuses perpetrated during the civil war in the six republics that formed the former Yugoslavia.

A sitting head of state is formally accused of crimes against humanity. This is a first in world history.

In June 2001 Slobodan Milosevic was handed over to the ICTY by the Serbian authorities and underwent a highly publicized trial which will see him condemned.

One day before the publication of Slobodan Milosevic's indictment, prosecutor Louise Arbor experienced another decisive event.

May 26, 1999, the first Minister Jean Chrétien appointed her a judge to the Supreme Court of Canada.

On the first day of the fall session of Canada's highest court, October 4, 1999, Justice Louise Arbor granted a new interview to the anchor of the show Le Téléjournal/Le Point, Stéphan Bureau.

Stéphan Bureau interviews Louise Arbor who is beginning her mandate as a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.

She then returns to her role at the ICTY and the importance that the notion of impunity could take with regard to the actions of heads of state and government in international law.

Louise Arbor will resign from Canada's highest court on June 30, 2004.

On February 20, 2004, she was appointed high commissioner of United Nations on human rights.

She will leave this position in June 2008.

May 5, 2009 , Louise Arbor will grant an interview to the host of24 hours in 60 minutes, Anne Marie Dussault.

Anne-Marie Dussault interviews Louise Arbor about her mandate as president of the International Crisis Group.

The host questions Louise Arbor about this mandate during which she denounced the human rights violations of several powerful states on the planet, starting by the actions of the United States in the Guantanamo prison.

In this spring of 2009, Louise Arbor is preparing to chair the International Crisis Group which works to prevent and resolve conflicts around the world.

Louise Arbor will also be from 2017 to 2018 special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for international migration.

She still practices law in Montreal and continues her fight for the respect and application of the law.

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