In a farewell speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, she also urged it to condemn anti-Semitism as well as Islamophobia, and to speak out against abuse of minorities, immigrants and people from perceived lower castes.
"A key aspect of women's legal disenfranchisement in many countries is the limitation placed on their ability to own or manage property, including through unjust divorce or inheritance laws," she told the 47-nation body, where Islamic countries have a strong hold on the agenda.
The "perpetuation of prejudices continues to deny equal rights and dignity to millions worldwide on the basis of nothing more innocuous than their sexual identity or orientation, or their ancestry in the case of caste discrimination," she said.
Some Islamic and African countries in the Council, which have a majority when backed by their frequent allies Russia, China and Cuba, have frequently been angered by Arbour's views, although she has also often spoken out against Israeli policies.
Many countries in the majority group have made little secret of their wish to bring the high commissioner's office under the control of the Council. The post is currently responsible to the U.N. Secretary-General, who nominates its occupant.
Arbour, who on Monday also criticised prejudice and actions against illegal immigrants in Europe, especially in Italy, recognised that there was still scepticism about the Council, set up two years ago to replace a discredited predecessor.
Independent human rights groups complain that major abuses -- especially in developing nations -- are ignored because groups of states in the Council block discussion or action on complaints that might embarrass their members.
Arbour herself warned that "regional or communal positions" or "narrow parochial political agendas" in the body could prevent it from ever becoming effective.
Western diplomats say that countries that in the past benefited from U.N. pressure on their governments over rights -- like South Africa -- are now among the first to reject what they regard as interference in internal affairs.
In her farewell address, Arbour suggested that the failure to bring the Yangon regime to book over long-term rights violations had encouraged it to refuse to allow in most outside help after last month's devastating hurricane.
Myanmar's government has since responded to international outrage by saying it will admit all "legitimate" foreign aid workers, but several aid workers are still complaining that red tape is hampering their efforts.
Source : www.uk.reuters.com