November, 2010The launch of the Mary Robinson Speaker Series on Business & Human Rights took place on 26 October 2010 in New York City. The series is hosted by the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Full video footage of the event is now available. Full footage on You Tube (see direct links to individual segments below) Full footage on Vimeo in one video
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:
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: