Launch of the Mary Robinson Speaker Series, 26 Oct 2010
26 October 2010 saw the launch of the Mary Robinson Speaker Series on Business & Human Rights in New York City. The series is hosted by the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
Full footage of the event on You Tube
(see direct links to individual segments below)
Each year the speaker series will spotlight emerging issues in the field of business & human rights. It will move forward the debate, by bringing together people from the business, investment, human rights and environmental communities. And it will continue to recognise the pioneering role in this field played by Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
An audience of almost 300 attended the inaugural event at Rockefeller University. Following introductory remarks by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre representatives Chris Marsden (Chair) and Chris Avery (Director), three leaders in the field paid personal tributes to Mary Robinson:
- John Ruggie, UN Special Representative on business & human rights
- Lucas Benitez, Co-Director, Coalition for Immokalee Workers
- Alexandra Guáqueta, Head of Social Standards & Intl. Engagement, Cerrejón Coal (Colombia)
Mary Robinson gave the keynote speech. She opened by tracing her commitment to human rights back to growing up as the only girl “wedged between four brothers” in the West of Ireland, and to observing her father’s work as a doctor. “I gradually appreciated the enormous time he gave. The enormous sense he had of the dignity of each person, and the need to really listen.”
She shared her four “core beliefs” with the audience. These are: that the law can be an instrument of social change; the principle of inclusion and giving voice to the marginalised; the need for effective, accountable institutions at all levels of governance; and the importance of leadership.
Robinson then gave an overview of efforts to encourage business to respect human rights. While significant progress has been made, she said that we “still haven’t moved markers sufficiently or made corporate responsibility for human rights, or for the triple bottom line more generally, a part of mainstream business practice around the world.”
In the final segment of the event, PBS NewsHour Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez interviewed Mary Robinson, and there were questions from the audience.
Direct links to sections of the event videos:
- Part 1: Welcome - Chris Marsden, Chair, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
- Part 2: Images of victims & positive initiatives to set the scene - Chris Avery, Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
- Part 3: Introduction of Mary Robinson by John Ruggie, UN Special Representative on business & human rights
- Part 4: Introduction of Mary Robinson by Lucas Benitez, Co-Director, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
- Part 5: Introduction of Mary Robinson by Alexandra Guáqueta, Head of Social Standards & International Engagement, Cerrejón Coal (Colombia)
- Part 6: Presentation by Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland (continued in parts 7, 8, 9)
- Part 10: Mary Robinson interviewed by Ray Suarez, PBS NewsHour Senior Correspondent (continued in parts 11, 12)
- Part 13: Q&A (continued in part 14)
- Part 15: Closing - Chris Marsden, Chair, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre