Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson will be the first speaker at the inaugural “Ireland at Fordham Humanitarian Lecture Series" which begins at Fordham University, New York, next week.

The series, which will run until June 2020, is being organized by the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, with events also scheduled to take place in Dublin and Geneva.

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Robinson was the first woman elected president of Ireland (1990-1997) and is the current chair of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela that works for human rights.

Members of the Elder group, (LtoR) former Norwegian prime minister and former director-general of the WHO Gro Harlem Brundtland, former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Irish President Mary Robinson, former United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. Image: Getty

Members of the Elder group, (LtoR) former Norwegian prime minister and former director-general of the WHO Gro Harlem Brundtland, former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Irish President Mary Robinson, former United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. Image: Getty

She is a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and a passionate, forceful advocate for climate justice, gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building, and human dignity.

The multiyear lectures will explore the challenges facing policymakers and humanitarians as they seek to ensure that aid reaches those in need, that humanitarian principles are upheld, and that civilians are protected.

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Specific topics of discussion will include humanitarian protection through international humanitarian law, humanitarian financing, climate and security, and more.

Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, said: “Ireland and Fordham University have deep enduring connections. Our historic ties are rooted in our strong commitments to respect for human dignity and spirit. Reflecting that in society and humanity, at home and abroad, underwrites those connections.

Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason. Image: YouTube

Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason. Image: YouTube

“As we look towards the humanitarian challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change, gender equality, and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, I can think of no better partner than Fordham."

"We believe that a better understanding of these complex issues is critical, as Ireland aspires to make a meaningful difference as a candidate for election to the UN Security Council, for 2021-22.” 

Fordham University, New York. Image: Getty

Fordham University, New York. Image: Getty

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, remarked: “The lecture series brings fresh depth to the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs’ mission to educate men and women who are both committed to, and professionally trained in, helping the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters around the globe.”

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Speakers will include high-level political leaders who will communicate pivotal messages in response to key questions such as: What challenges and opportunities exist in humanitarian action in the 21st century? How do climate and gender drive food insecurity and humanitarian need? And, how can humanitarian action strengthen the role of local actors in humanitarian responses?

Robinson’s lecture will take place on Monday, April 29 at 6 p.m. in the United Nations Sputnik Lounge.

Former Irish president Mary Robinson. Robinson was the first woman elected president of Ireland (1990-1997) and is the current chair of the Elders.Getty Images