Human Rights over Power

Mary Robinson
The former president of Ireland delivers the Ethics in Society Schiffman Lecture.

“Making Human Rights the Compass for All Ethical Globalization” was the title of the lecture delivered by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, in Launer Auditorium on March 5. The talk was part of the Althea W. and John A. Schiffman Ethics in Society lecture series.

Robinson spoke about inspiring youth to pursue low-carbon solutions to reverse climate injustice and make the world safe for future generations.

“When people talk about climate change, they’re talking about melting glaciers somewhere very far away, or a polar bear on a melting ice flow,” Robinson said. “We feel sympathy, but no connection. I believe we need to change the story of climate and tell the real story, which is that millions of people in our world today are already suffering in having their poverty undermined.”

Robinson said she’s optimistic for positive change and encouraged the audience to “widen the circle of your awareness,” think inter-generationally and make small changes at a community level. “We have shared values,” she said, “but we don’t live by them. If we want to have a safe world, we’ll have to abide by the values that we subscribe to in principle.”

Robinson has spent most of her life as a human rights advocate. The former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and founder and former president of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Global Initiative and has also expanded her international leadership into business enterprise, corporate citizenship and the reform of some of the world’s most prestigious organizations.

Educated at the University of Dublin (Trinity College), the Honorable Society of King’s Inns in Dublin and Harvard Law School, she holds honorary doctorates from more than 40 universities around the world, including Yale, Brown, Columbia, Oxford and Cambridge.

In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, in recognition of her significant contributions to the nation and the world. She now chairs the Council of Women World Leaders and is president of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice.
Schffman Ethics in Society lecture
“Making Human Rights the Compass for All Ethical Globalization”

Robinson was recently appointed to the UN Global Compact Board, a group of 20 global business, labor and social leaders working to advance universal business principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Making human rights the compass that charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all, she retains a high visibility on pressing issues such as global health, the battle against poverty and supporting microfinance in many nations.

To learn more about Robinson, watch the video below, which includes a discussion by Columbia College philosophy students.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me, this is the 21st Century, not the 1960s. Can we get with the program?

Anonymous said...

This looks like it will be a great talk. Ignore the other commenter.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for this! Anonymous #1 needs to grow up.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...Excuse me, this is the 21st Century, not the 1960s. Can we get with the program?"


Unknown said...

We received a comment, which, while it had good commentary, resorted to some name-calling. We are posting the comment (edited) below.

"Annonomous 1 ... has not respect. ... It's easy to criticize greatness when you are hid in the security of annomous obscurity. Mrs Robinson has achieved many great things.... The way to rise, on the mountain of success, is to show respect to your elders especially when they are your betters. I aspire to achieve on President Robinson's level. I listend to her and picked up some extremely helpful tips."

Beth Hastings said...

I'm baffled by the negative responses. Mary Robinson was president from 1990-97, not the sixties. Since then she has been active in human rights, which will always be a current and important topic. Especially when she discusses how climate change is a human rights issue, this is a unique perspective and very timely.