The Center for the Study of Democracy
The Chancellor's Distinguished Fellows Series
at the
University of California, Irvine

"Human Rights and Ethical Globalization"

President of Ireland
United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights

April 19,2007
4:00 p.m.
Social Sciences Lecture Hall
Room 100

The CSD website may be viewed at

Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland, serving from 1990 to 1997. She left the presidency to become the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights on September 12, 1997, a position she held until 2002.

Before her election as President in 1990, Mrs. Robinson served as Senator, holding that office for 20 years (1969-1989). In 1969 she became the youngest Reid Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College, Dublin. She was called to the bar in 1967, becoming a Senior Counsel in 1980 and a member of the English Bar in 1973. She also served as a member of the International Commission of Jurists.

In 1990, she was elected President as an Independent candidate supported by the Labour Party, the Workers' Party of Ireland and independent senators. She was the first elected President in the office's history not to have the support of Fianna Fáil. She is often viewed as having revitalized and liberalized a previously conservative political office.

While President of Ireland, Mrs. Robinson developed a new sense of Ireland's economic, political and cultural links with other countries and cultures. She placed special emphasis on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today's nutrition, poverty and policy issues, thus creating a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries. Mrs. Robinson was the first Head of State to visit Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. She was also the first Head of State to visit Somalia, receiving the CARE Humanitarian Award in recognition of her efforts for that country.

As U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Robinson implemented reform proposals to integrate human rights concerns in all the activities of the United Nations. She traveled during her first year as High Commissioner to Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia and Cambodia. She was the first High Commissioner to visit China, signing an agreement of cooperation for improving human rights. As High Commissioner she sent human rights workers to Indonesia and to countries in Europe and Africa.

Mary Robinson has been Honorary President of Oxfam International since 2002. She has also assumed a number of other prominent roles and has been one of the European members of the Trilateral Commission. Since 2004 she has also been Professor of Practice in International Affairs at Columbia University.

For additional information please call 924 824-2904.
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Mary Robinson is a guest of the Center for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine and the Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture Series. The Center hosts the annual Peltason Lecture on Democracy that invites leading political figures to lecture on campus. The series is supported by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.