The General Assembly is expected to act shortly on Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s intention to appoint Ms. Arbour to a four-year term heading the Geneva-based UN human rights office, according to a UN spokesman. Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that if approved, she would be expected to retire from Canada’s Supreme Court, where she has been working since 1999, to take up her new assignment. Ms. Arbour was the Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from October, 1996 to September, 1999 – a period of intense activity for both courts. The 57-year old Justice was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1971 and the Bar of Ontario in 1977. She served for 13 years as Associate Professor of Law and later Associate Dean at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Fluent in both English and French, she became a member of the bench in December 1987, first as a trial judge on the Supreme Court of Ontario and, in 1990, at the Ontario Court of Appeal. In April 1995, she was chosen to lead an official investigation into the operation of the correctional service of Canada, based on allegations by female inmates at a women’s prison in Kingston (Ontario). Until her appointment to the bench, she served as vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Throughout her career, Justice Arbour has published extensively, in both English and French, in the fields of criminal procedure, human rights, civil liberties and gender issues. The General Assembly established the post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in December, 1993, with a wide-ranging mandate to oversee the world body’s complex and multifaceted activities in that field. The first person to hold the post was José Ayala Lasso, a former Foreign Minister from Ecuador, who was succeeded by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland. Mr. Vieira de Mello assumed the job on 12 September 2002 before being asked to take what was supposed to be a temporary leave to serve as UN envoy to Iraq, where he was killed in a terrorist bombing that also took the lives of 21 others.
“As far as we are concerned his status remains unchanged,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the regular noon briefing, when asked about a comment by Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Mohamad that Mr. Pronk was history.“He remains the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, having been recalled for consultations. But obviously the decision regarding Mr. Pronk, as the decision regarding any Special Representative of the Secretary-General, is the Secretary-General’s to make.” Asked if the plan would be for Mr. Pronk to work from outside Sudan if he is to stay in place and the Sudanese Government doesn’t change its position, Mr. Dujarric replied: “We need to take things one step at a time… The Secretary-General had a meeting this morning with Mr. Pronk. They ran through the situation and they’ll probably have more discussions either later this afternoon or tomorrow.” On Monday, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hédi Annabi protested to Mr. Mohamad over the Sudanese Government’s decision. Mr. Annan received the Government’s letter on Sunday and requested Mr. Pronk to come to New York for consultations. As Special Representative Mr. Pronk oversees the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) set up in 2005 to support a peace agreement between the Government and rebel forces in Southern Sudan. In August this year the Security Council expanded its mandate to include deployment to the western Darfur region to support the “early and effective implementation” of a peace accord with some of the rebels there.But the Sudanese Government has rejected any UN deployment in Darfur, where at least 200,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the conflict and more than 2 million others have been displaced. At present the UN supports an African Union mission in the region. UNMIS has some 10,250 uniformed personnel in Sudan out of a total of up to 27,300 mandated when the Council expanded its mission in August.