3 September 2001


NEW YORK, 31 August (UN Headquarters) -- Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is Secretary-General of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance taking place in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 7 September.

Mrs. Robinson, a former President of Ireland, has served as High Commissioner since June 1997.

As High Commissioner, Mrs. Robinson has principal responsibility for United Nations human rights activities and supervising the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

Mrs. Robinson has outstanding legal qualifications, with special expertise in constitutional and European human rights law. She became a member of the English Bar (Middle Temple) in 1973 and served as a member of the International Commission of Jurists (1987-1990) and of the Advisory Commission of Inter-Rights (1984-1990).

Among the numerous international human rights activities in which she has participated was her role as Special Rapporteur to the Interregional Meeting organized in 1993 by the Council of Europe on the theme "Human Rights at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century", part of its preparation for the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. She also delivered the keynote address at the Council of Europe preparatory meeting for the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.

Mrs. Robinson was the first Head of State to visit Rwanda following the 1994 genocide in that country, the first to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the first to visit Somalia following the crisis there in 1992. She received the Special CARE Humanitarian Award in recognition of her efforts for Somalia.

As Ireland's head of State, Mrs. Robinson placed special emphasis on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today's nutrition, poverty and policy issues, and thus creating a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries.

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Durban, South Africa
31 August - 7 September 2001