On May 27th, Mrs. Louise Arbour, 2016 Tang Prize laureate in Rule of Law, was invited to deliver a keynote speech on human rights in a conference held in the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. This event also marked the launch of the book, Doing Peace the Rights Way, published recently as a guide for the international community to forming political alliances and building effective mechanisms when dealing with international migration. As part of the global political network, Taiwan should be duly concerned about all these issues.
The speech, titled “The Rule of Law in the Face of Contemporary Human Rights Challenges,” sounded the alarm about the increasingly divisive and adversarial nature of today’s politics. Mrs. Arbour warned us that when people became more indifferent to rational, evidence-based arguments, “embrace of the rule of law becomes even more imperative. This includes the fearless promotion of human rights norms, the courageous insistence on the application of these norms and alongside the mobilization of the legal profession to ensure respect for the judiciary.” Another highlight of this conference, Doing Peace the Rights Way, is a collection of essays compiled in honor of Mrs. Arbour and written by the world’s foremost legal experts professionally acquainted with her in the course of her career, aiming to address pressing issues in contemporary international law and relations.
Formerly a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Mrs. Arbour undoubtedly carved out a glittering career for herself. It is no wonder that the UN Human Rights Committee has long been deeply indebted to her for her professionalism, her dedication and her leadership. The Tang Prize selection committee recognized Mrs. Arbour’s enduring contributions to international criminal justice and the protection of human rights, thus announcing her the worthy winner of the 2016 Tang Prize in Rule of Law.
As major European countries were hit by refugee crisis during recent years, serious social and economic problems concerning human rights, human migration, border control and the rise of Islamic terrorism and right-wing populism also occurred one after another. Given the continued conflicts provoked by these problems, it seemed a matter of course that succeeding the awarding of the Tang Prize was an invitation from the U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to Mrs. Arbour to be his Special Representative for International Migration, a position in which she was able to introduce more practical measures to tackle grave threats to international human rights posed by a dramatic surge in number of immigrants and refugees who fell prey to contemporary political and military strife. She developed the first-ever “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” (GCM), urging every government to manage immigrants and refugees more effectively and to promise that they would do everything in their power to minimize the danger these vulnerable groups would face when relocating to a different country. Despite not being legally binding, the compact has been signed by 164 countries and received an endorsement from the United Nations’ General Assembly after the majority of the members voted in favor of it. The Compact can serve as a framework for collaboration among countries to handle problems about immigration. Though Taiwan is not a member of the UN and thus isn’t qualified to sign this compact, it is Taiwanese people’s duty and obligation to pay close attention to this phenomenon, in case there are wars breaking out in East or Southeast Asia, in which Taiwan will definitely be engulfed.
After leaving her post as the Special Representative at the end of 2018, Mrs. Arbour has resumed her previous role as a lawyer and continued to offer different international organizations her sharp observations and deep insights, staying on the frontline to safeguard the basic rights of international immigrants.
To watch Mrs. Arbour’s full speech, please click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJnbTK-aOAo