Former Ireland President to Keynote WOCCU Conference

December 02, 2005

Madison, WI—World Council announced today that Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland (1990-1997), will be one of its keynote speakers for the 2006 World Credit Union Conference held in Dublin, Ireland. As president, she represented her country internationally, developing a new sense of Ireland's economic, political, and cultural ties to other countries and cultures. Robinson will kick off the conference on Friday, July 28 by speaking on the Role of Credit Unions in Equalizing the Effects of Globalization.

The Robinson presidency was characterized by inclusiveness and a concerted effort to use the office not only to improve the situations of marginalized groups within Ireland but also to draw attention to global crises. Robinson was the first head of state to visit famine-stricken Somalia in 1992 and also the first to go to Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide there.

Her humanitarian work as president, her background in human rights law, and her uncompromising pursuit of justice and equality made her a prime candidate for the position of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which she held from 1997-2002. As High Commissioner, Robinson was responsible for overseeing the human rights activities of the United Nations, including promoting universal enjoyment of human rights, responding to human rights violations, undertaking preventive human rights action, and providing education and assistance in the field of human rights. Taking every opportunity to speak out on human rights abuses as they occur, she has recently expressed urgent concern about conflicts in East Timor, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, among others.

Robinson founded and currently heads Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative (EGI), a company that addresses three urgent issues required for greater human development and security: fostering more equitable international trade and development; strengthening responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa; and shaping more humane migration policies. She has been quoted saying, "We must put into practice the values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect and shared responsibility which can unite North and South, rich and poor, left and right, religious and secular, us and them."

In 2005 Robinson was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people. Selected in the "Heroes & Icons" category, Robinson is among such notables as Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. "They righted the wrongs, played through the pain, offered spiritual solace or simply inspired us with their remarkable talents," stated Time when describing Robinson and the 17 other individuals listed in this category.

For more information on the 2006 World Credit Union Conference held July 27-30 in Dublin, Ireland visit World Council's website at or contact Marechiel Santos, WOCCU meetings manager at 608.231.8974 or

(Background) Born in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland on May 21, 1944, Mary Robinson was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where she received a Master of Arts degree in 1970. She also earned a Barrister-at-Law degree from the King's Inns, Dublin, and a Master of Laws degree from Harvard University.

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