Mary Robinson gives Lecture

March 29, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

A woman who has spent most of her life as a human-rights champion, who has been spotlighted for her moral strength and her defense of ethics in politics and academics, will deliver the 21st annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture at California State University, Bakersfield on Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. in the Dore Theater.

Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland, former United Nations' high commissioner for human rights and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, will discuss "Ethical Globalization: How to Create an Ethically Sustainable Global Economy and Politics" at the lecture named for the late CSUB philosophy professor.

"It is hard for me to put into words how thrilled we are to have Mary Robinson come to CSUB and address this crucial issue," said Christopher Meyers, CSUB philosophy professor and director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics. "Her work and commitment to the ethical approach to human rights have become legendary. She is one of the most important people on a global scale in our time. Because of this I expect an overflow crowd for the lecture, which is free, and urge people to arrive early."

Robinson maintains that ethical globalization requires greater recognition of the responsibility of the international community to help people who have been denied their fundamental rights. This requires taking human rights beyond their more traditional political and legal realms and applying them to other fields.

She defines ethical globalization as:

Robinson served as Ireland's first woman president from 1990 to 1997, and was named the United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002.

According to her biography on the U.N. website, as high commissioner, Robinson gave a high priority to integrating human rights concerns in all the activities of the United Nations. She is also oversaw a reorientation of the priorities of her office to focus at the country and regional levels.

As part of this focus, she traveled during her first year as high commissioner to Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia and Cambodia, among other countries. In September 1998, she was the first high commissioner to visit China, signing an agreement for the improvement of human rights in that country. Under a similar process, she sent human rights workers to Indonesia and to countries in Europe and Africa, and strengthened human rights monitoring in such conflict areas as Kosovo, in Yugoslavia.

Robinson came to the United Nations after a seven-year tenure as president of Ireland. As president, Robinson developed a new sense of Ireland's economic, political and cultural links with other countries and cultures. She placed special emphasis during her presidency 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.

She was the first head of state to visit Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide there. She was also the first head of state to visit Somalia following the crisis there in 1992, receiving the CARE Humanitarian Award in recognition of her efforts for that country.

Before her election as President in 1990, Robinson served in the Irish Senate for 20 years. In 1969 she became the youngest Reid Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College, Dublin. In addition to practicing law in Ireland since 1967, she is also a member of the English Bar and served as a member of the International Commission of Jurists (1987-1990) and of the Advisory Commission of Inter-Rights (1984-1990).

Robinson earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Trinity College in Dublin, and law degrees from the King's Inns law school in Dublin and from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Born on May 21, 1944, in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland, Robinson is married and has three children.

For more information about the Kegley Memorial Lecture, please call (661) 654-2555, or visit