This year, on June 12th, the Sixth International Human Rights Lecture was held at the Ballina Arts Centre where people gathered around our guest speaker, Ernesto Zedillo, who followed in the footsteps of Hina Jilani, Graça Machel, Senator George Mitchell, Kumi Naidoo and Professor Muhammad Yunus - many of whom have been members, alongside Mary Robinson, of The Elders group of independent global leaders established by the late Nelson Mandela to work together for peace and human rights.
The International Human Rights Lecture series serves as a powerful platform to highlight global human rights challenges, fostering an environment of dialogue, inspiration, and empowerment.
As the event started, the stage was set for an engaging and enlightening experience. Terry Reilly, local Historian and Author was MC for the event, welcoming the audience with warmth and grace.
Among the speakers were Dara Calleary TD, Peter Hynes - Board Member of The Mary Robinson Centre, and Susan Heffernan - Project Manager of The Mary Robinson Centre, giving context to the lecture, and extending a warm Ballina welcome to our invited speaker and distinguished guests.
Traditional music performances by local talented traditional musicians Deirdre & Sylvie Golden opened and closed the event.
The main highlight of the event was the guest lecture delivered by Ernesto Zedillo. As the former President of Mexico, Mr. Zedillo's vast experience in politics and governance shone through as he eloquently spoke about the challenges faced by marginalised communities in the global war against illegal drugs, and the pressing need for international cooperation to protect human rights in the face of this global crisis. His call for solidarity and compassion challenged and resonated with all in attendance.
Below is the full transcription of Ernesto Zedillo’s speech - a video of the event will be made available soon.
Ernesto Zedillo's speech was followed by an engaging conversation with Mary Robinson, moderated by Olivia O'Leary. The exchange of ideas between these eminent personalities provided the audience with deep insights into the complexities of human rights and the importance of collaborative efforts on a global scale.
Local students from Lisaniska Primary School presented thank you gifts to Ernesto Zedillo and Olivia O'Leary to conclude the event. It was a particular pleasure to have these young students and their classmates in attendance, reminding us all of the profound impact that human rights education can have on future generations, instilling values of empathy and compassion.
As the event concluded, it left attendees inspired and motivated to be leaders at a community level. The discussions and interactions during the Sixth International Human Rights Lecture not only raised awareness about human rights issues but also instilled a sense of responsibility within each person present to create positive change in their communities.