2007 - 2008: Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson

The tenth annual University of Alberta Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights was delivered by Mary Robinson, on April 2, 2008 at 7:30 pm at the Citadel Theatre.

About Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, continues to be a tireless advocate for securing human rights for all. Devoted to addressing issues of injustice and inequality Mary Robinson founded and currently leads Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. Realizing Rights is tackling three critical issues: the imbalance in global trade and development, the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa and the barriers to facilitating more humane international migration.

From 1997 to 2002 during her term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights she challenged governments to address human rights issues regardless of those governments' international or economic stature. She brought the lens of human rights to all UN activity; she emphasized the link between advanced human rights and economic and social development; and she traveled widely bringing attention to situations requiring our most urgent action.

She has never shied away from difficult issues and has long used her international stature to bring attention to critical situations - she was the first president to visit Rwanda after the genocide and the first to visit Somalia after the 1992 crisis there.

Mrs. Robinson currently chairs the Council of Women World Leaders, is the Honorary President of Oxfam International and in 2005 was named a "Hero and Icon" as one of Time magazine's top 100 men and women whose "power, talent or moral example is transforming the world." In 2006, Mary Robinson received Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences for her work as a global human rights campaigner, singled out for her "moral strength," her defense of "ethics in the field of politics and academic research," and her "tireless efforts to bring about a world without borders."

She also serves on many boards including the Vaccine Fund, the Global Commission on Migration, the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights, and the International Commission of Jurists. Mrs. Robinson has been awarded over 40 honourary degrees.