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FACTBOX-South Africa's Pillay is new human rights chief
July 28, 2008 / 4:28 PM / 9 years ago

FACTBOX-South Africa's Pillay is new human rights chief

July 28 (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Monday unanimously confirmed South African judge Navanethem Pillay as the world body’s new human rights chief.

Pillay, who will succeed outspoken Canadian Louise Arbour, is a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Here are some key facts about Pillay:



* Pillay, born in a poor Indian neighbourhood of Durban, in 1941, is a lawyer from South Africa’s ethnic Tamil minority.

* The daughter of a bus driver, she became a lawyer and represented many opponents of the apartheid regime.

* U.N. diplomats and officials said the United States initially resisted the idea of appointing her due to concerns about her views on abortion among other issues but eventually agreed to drop its opposition.

* Pillay studied at Natal University and Harvard. She opened her law practice in 1967, the first woman to do so in Natal Province.

* In 1995 she was appointed acting judge of the High Court of South Africa by the government of Nelson Mandela, the first non-white woman and first attorney to serve on the Bench.

* Pillay was elected by the United Nations to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served for eight years, including four years as president.

* In February 2003, Pillay was elected as one of the 18 Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague and served on its Appeals Chamber.

Sources: Reuters/ICC








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