Ex-president of Ireland to deliver lecture

Ex-president of Ireland to deliver lecture Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, will be the keynote speaker for an international conference at The University of South Dakota. Robinson's lecture, "Human Rights and Ethical Globalization," will be delivered at 7 p.m. on March 21 at the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

The lecture and the conference, titled "One Step Forward: Assessing the Status and Treatment of Women in a New Century," are sponsored by the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership and are free and open to the public.

Robinson will hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. in the University Room of Old Main on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

Robinson was Ireland's first woman president from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002. As Ireland's president, Robinson became known as a strong supporter of women's rights and internationally, she gained a reputation as a prominent human rights lawyer.

As president, Robinson placed special emphasis on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to contemporary nutrition, poverty and policy issues worldwide.

Robinson was the first head of state to visit Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide there and made two further visits to Rwanda, the most recent to address the Pan-African Conference on "Peace, Gender and Development."

Robinson became the first head of state to visit famine-stricken Somalia and in 1992 received the Special CARE Humanitarian Award in recognition of her efforts for Somalia.

As high commissioner for human rights, Robinson turned the post into one of the organization's most high-profile departments. During her first year on the job, she traveled to Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia and Cambodia.

In 1998, she visited China, signing an agreement supporting the improvement of human rights. She also strengthened human rights' monitoring in Kosovo, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Robinson also served as special rapporteur to the interregional meeting organized in 1993 by the Council of Europe on the theme "Human rights at the Dawn of the 21st Century," as part of its preparation for the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. She delivered the keynote address at the Council of Europe preparatory meeting for the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.

After she left the United Nations, Robinson became director of the Ethical Globalization Initiative, a new venture established to support human rights.

In this capacity, she continues to speak out about the link between HIV/AIDS and human rights. She is also honorary president of Oxfam International, a global nongovernmental group dedicated to fighting poverty and injustice.

Before her election as president in 1990, Robinson served as senator for 20 years. In 1969, she became the youngest Reid Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College in Ireland. Robinson holds law degrees from King's Inns in Dublin, Ireland, and from Harvard.

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