Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will speak at UCSB this Sunday about peacefully resolving volatile international conflicts.
Arbour will deliver a free lecture on pertinent human rights issues such as peace, justice and conflict resolution in Campbell Hall at 3 p.m. Arbour said the purpose of her appearance on campus is to engage the community in issues that have global significance.
A native of Canada, Arbour first attracted attention as a human rights activist when she was appointed as a justice to the Canadian Supreme Court of Ontario in 1987. However, Arbour went on to garner wider fame for her role in settling international disputes in the mid-90s.
In 1996, Arbour was the chief prosecutor of war crimes for both the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague. This position, she said, lent her the authority to enact real change.
“I think, in retrospect, probably the work I did as prosecutor [for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia] was the most significant I did, essentially because the situation was so new…” Arbour said in a phone interview.
Arbour said she was appointed the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2004, following the death of her predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed on a diplomatic mission to Baghdad in 2003 when his hotel was bombed. Arbour stepped down from her U.N. position in June 2008.
Despite her departure, Arbour said, she will not stop her fight for human rights.
“I will start in July as the president and chief executive officer of the International Crisis Group, which is headquartered in Brussels,” Arbour said.
She decided to accept the position with the ICG, Arbour said, because it does not fall subject to the many bureaucratic restraints that officials with the UN must to adhere to.
Arbour said she hopes students who attend her lecture will realize that there are many serious international conflicts occurring around the world on a consistent basis.
“There is a lot of political instability around the world,” Arbour said, “[In the] Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, also Israeli-Arab confrontation. These are the big ones, but there are lots of concerns about South Sudan, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
These conflicts, she said, need the attention and help of the rest of the world.
“These international issues sometimes are seen as very far way and one cannot be involved in every single one of them, but I think it’s important to understand what is happening and support … you know, the right people,” Arbour said. “Support the civil organizations … that are more directly engaged in the broader world, the advancement of peace and so on. If I can get that message across, then I will feel pretty good.”