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Letter to Madam Justice Louise Arbour on the occasion of her appointment

03 March 2004

Sent 3 March, 2004

Your Excellency,

May I, on behalf of the World Council of Churches, warmly congratulate you on the occasion of your appointment as High Commissioner for Human Rights.

TheWorld Council of Churches indeed looks forward to a continued close, constructiveand committed cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights under your leadership.

The World Council of Churches has a long history of working closely with the UN and its agencies. Since our inception we have been concerned with human rights issues. The work on human rights is undertaken with member churches in theregions from whom we receive regular reports on critical human rights situations. The WCC facilitates the participation of representatives from the regions in different forums of the UN, including the UN Commission and Sub-commission on Human Rights. The WCC's Churches Commission on International Affairs hasbeen actively following the procedures of the ICC and has a programme on Impunity.

We commend your work as ex-Prosecutor of the United Nations war crime tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The international community has highly recognized your exceptional qualities, competence and vision which will be essential for your future work. We wish to assure you of our support and prayers.

The World Council of Churches had a very good working relationship with your predecessor, Mr Vieira de Mello who was an old friend of this organization. A tour last meeting, a few days before the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, he promised to renew his relations with the Council and visit its headquarters in Geneva to address the staff. For well-known reasons, this was not possible. We were also very grateful to have Acting High Commissioner, Dr Bertrand Ramcharan be the key-note speaker at the WCC International Affairs and Advocacy Week in November last year. At this meeting, held in New York, church experts on International Affairs and Human Rights from all over the world came together for mutual sharing and common strategizing.

It would be an honour for me to extend to you in person our congratulations and to exchange views about how the World Council of Churches and its more than 300 member churches in over 100 countries can assist and support you in your new and important responsibilities. We shall contact your office later this year to try and find an opportunity to meet.

May God bless, guide and sustain you.

Peter Weiderud
Director, CCIA