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Realizing Rights

11 November 2008

The former President of Ireland has visited the University to deliver the Hadyn Ellis Distinguished Lecture and highlight the importance of placing human rights standards at the heart of global governance and policy-making.

Around 400 members of the public filled the Julian Hodge Lecture Theatre on Friday night to hear President Mary Robinson deliver an engaging talk on ‘Ethical Globalization: A Challenge for the 21st Century’.

President Robinson’s talk drew heavily on her experiences as former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, as the founder of Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, and as a member of the Elders, a group of world leaders who contribute their wisdom and integrity to tackling some of the world’s toughest problems.

Telling the audience how delighted she was to be back in Wales for the celebration of the University’s 125th anniversary, President Robinson said: "I know how proud you all are of the University’s anniversary and I am happy to be linked with it today. I was very honoured to be invited here to give the first Hadyn Ellis Distinguished Lecture. I have read a lot about his contributions as an innovative scholar, he was clearly a beloved figure at the University right up to the end of his life that ended too soon."

As 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, President Robinson reminded her audience that, under the terms of that document, we need to realize that human rights are a birthright and those in power have an obligation to ensure that those rights are implemented on a global scale.

At the end of her talk, President Robinson fielded numerous questions from members of the audience, including the First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM, on topics as diverse as President Barack Obama, climate justice, the International Monetary Fund, children’s rights, and the death penalty.

The lecture, kindly sponsored by the Waterloo Foundation, marked a fitting tribute to Professor Hadyn Ellis CBE DSc (1945-2006), formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University.

President Robinson also praised the University’s strengths in the field of public health research, noting in particular the Archie Cochrane Chair in Public Health and saying that evidence based medicine is a topic she feels very strongly about.

In keeping with the University’s status as a venue for high-level discussion and debate, that same night also saw Lord Justice Thomas deliver the Law School Annual Lecture at Cardiff Law School and Matthew Farrow, Head of Environment Policy at the CBI deliver the annual National Assembly Sustainable Energy Group Phil Williams Memorial Lecture.