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Former Irish President and UN Human Rights
Commissioner Mary Robison to Speak June 1
Released: May 27, 2005

Release #05038
Megan Clark Torrey    
(860) 594-4100
(CT World Affairs Council)

Nana Amos                 
(860) 486-3054
(UConn-African National Congress Partnership)

Michael Kirk
(860) 486-0715
(Media Relations)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights will give the keynote address at an event honoring UConn faculty member Amii Omara-Otunnu on Wednesday, June 1 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel.

The World Affairs Council of Connecticut is presenting Omara-Otunnu with its annual Luminary Award for his international leadership. The award was created by the World Affairs Council to honor those who have had a profound positive impact on global affairs. The award will be presented by last year’s recipient, Harry Gray, former head of United Technologies Corporation.

“As a world leader Mary Robinson has demonstrated that she has been able to keep global justice and human rights front and center on her professional and private agenda. This makes her exactly the right person to be presenting the World Affairs Council Award to Dr. Omara-Otunnu, who has done the same,” said Felicity Harley, executive director of the World Affair’s Council’s Connecticut Chapter.

“It is an imperative in our increasingly interdependent world that we focus on issues of international affairs because what happens in any region of the world affects all of us,” said Omara-Otunnu.  This is particularly important for the U.S. as the only super power that would need to understand how things are done in other parts of the world in order to be effective.

The award recognizes our various initiatives to foster international cooperation and understanding in very practical ways between the U.S. and other parts of the world.  We have done this via human rights education that emphasizes an inclusive approach.”

Omara-Otunnu is a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair for Human Rights the only person in the U.S. to hold that position. He is a professor of history at UConn and is the executive director of the UConn-African National Congress partnership.  

Since he was a student in Uganda, Omara-Otunnu has been involved in movements for democracy, human rights, and social justice in pre- and post-apartheid South Africa and other countries around the world. He has been an invited speaker of the U.S. Department of State to the Ambassadorial Seminars and he has appeared before a special session of the UN Security Council to discuss approaches to international security through regional organizations.

In 1984, he was a member of a UNESCO delegation of experts to Beijing, China, for a conference aimed at identifying ways to eliminate racism and its impact worldwide. In 1995, he was one of five international scholars selected to work on a project with the International Peace Institute in Oslo, Norway on the issue of armed conflict and democratization in Africa.

Robinson, who was Ireland’s President from 1990 – 1997 and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 – 2002 was named this year by Time Magazine as one of the world most influential people.

The World Affairs Council is a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1924 to promote public understanding of global affairs and world issues by sponsoring programs, discussion series and seminars on international politics, business and culture. 

For more information on Omara-Otunnu, the UNESCO Chair and the UConn/African National Congress Partnership visit: http://unescochair.uconn.edu/ancpartnership.htm                                   


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