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Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson to Speak at Juniata

(Posted September 15, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will speak at Juniata College on ?Human Rights? at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23 in Rosenberger Auditorium in Oller Hall on the Juniata campus.

The lecture, sponsored by the Will Judy Lectureship Series, is free and open to the public.

?To have an international politician of Mary Robinson?s stature speak at Juniata is an honor above words,? says Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple. ?Her work for peace and human rights has made her an international symbol of integrity and caring.?

Robinson resigned from her job as high commissioner on Sept. 11, 2002, after officials in the Bush Administration opposed the extension of her term. Robinson has visibly disagreed with U.S. policy, particularly the treatment of prisoners in Camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Her replacement, Sergio Vieira DeMello, was recently assassinated in a terrorist bombing in Baghdad, Iraq.

Named to her U.N. post by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Robinson began a program to integrate human rights concerns into all the activities of the United Nations. She traveled around the globe to examine human rights issues first-hand, including trips to Rwanda, South Africa, Cambodia and Colombia. In 1998, she was the first high commissioner to visit China, signing an agreement concerning the improvement of human rights in that country.

She became the U.N.?s second high commissioner for human rights after resigning as president of Ireland in 1997. Before her time as president, the presidency of Ireland had been a largely ceremonial office, but Robinson expanded her portfolio to include issues such as famine, peace, the needs of developing countries, and human rights. As President, she visited Somalia and Rwanda (she was the first head of state to visit both those war-torn areas, Rwanda in 1994 and Somalia in 1992). In 1992 she received the CARE Humanitarian Award for her efforts for Somali relief.

Before her election as president in 1990, Robinson served as a senator in Ireland from 1969 to 1989. Educated at Trinity College, she also earned law degrees from the Kings Inns in Dublin and from Harvard University.

?I got very wise advice from a friend of mine when I started,? recalled Robinson in an interview with Salon.com. ?He said ?Mary, remember, if you get too popular in that job it means you?re not doing a good job.??

She has received numerous awards, including the International Human Rights Award, the Liberal International Prize for Freedom, the U.N. Global Leadership Award, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal (1998), the Dag Hammarskjold medal (1998), and the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize (2000). She also has received numerous honorary degrees and other awards.

The Will Judy Lectureship Series was established by Captain Will Judy, an attorney, soldier, author, and publisher who graduated from Juniata in 1911. Most of his work involved publications about dogs, including the writing of eight books, editing a dog encyclopedia, and serving as publisher for Dog World magazine. Will Judy established the lectureship series in 1960 in order to supplement and enrich the academic program at the college.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.