Image credit: John Cairns
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has unveiled a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, the human rights champion, at Oxford University.
The unveiling took place at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Mansfield College, as part of a two-day programme to honour the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
In addition to her role in the proceedings, Secretary Clinton was also awarded an honorary fellowship of Mansfield College.
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D Roosevelt of the United States of America, played a key role in drafting the UDHR, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948. She believed that education and equal opportunities should be available to all, and she used her role as First Lady to fight for civil rights, the rights of women, and racial equality.
As Secretary of State, Senator, First Lady and lawyer, Secretary Clinton has also devoted much of her professional life to campaigning for the rights of women and children, for the reform of public education and public healthcare, and for racial equality. Earlier this year she gave the Oxford University Romanes lecture, which focused on the current state of political engagement across the world.
Secretary Clinton said: ‘It’s truly an honour to be a part of the Bonavero Institute’s efforts to lift up Eleanor Roosevelt and her critical role in securing a more just and equal world 70 years ago. I’m very happy to be back at Oxford, engaging in important discussions with the University community about how we all can work to promote human rights around the world and continue Eleanor’s great legacy.’
The bronze statue, by artist Penelope Jencks, presents Eleanor Roosevelt in a quiet and reflective pose and is a second casting of the statue that stands in Manhattan’s Riverside Park.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, former Principal of Mansfield College, who, with the Bonavero Institute and Mansfield College, campaigned to bring the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt to Oxford, joined Secretary Clinton in conversation on the role that women have played in promoting and protecting human rights.
Secretary Clinton was then presented with an honorary fellowship of Mansfield College by Helen Mountfield QC, Principal of Mansfield.
The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights will also host a conference today, focused on ‘Confronting Illiberalism: The Role of the Media, Civil Society and Universities,’ which will be hosted by Professor Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and at which Secretary Clinton will give the keynote speech.
Human rights practitioners, academics and journalists from around the world will engage in discussions on how three key institutions of civil society – the media, civil society organisations and universities – are addressing the threat of illiberalism.
Professor O’Regan said: ‘As a research institute within Oxford’s Faculty of Law, the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights is committed to carrying out world-class research that promotes active public engagement with human rights issues. Given her defining role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt will remind all who visit the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and Mansfield College, of the role individuals can play in promoting and protecting human rights.
‘The UDHR is a landmark that asserts a global commitment to giving respect to all human beings. While celebrating the UDHR and all that has been achieved since 1948, we also recognise that human rights are under threat in many places. This conference will, we hope, remind us why human rights matter, and remind us that, despite contemporary challenges, extraordinary work is being done around the world to promote and protect them.’
Helen Mountfield QC, Principal of Mansfield College, said: ‘Secretary Clinton’s admiration for her fellow former First Lady is well documented, and the Bonavero Institute and Mansfield College are thrilled to welcome Secretary Clinton for such a significant event. We are delighted too to provide a home to a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, whose own commitment to equality and diversity is echoed in the work Mansfield has done to be an inclusive and welcoming college.’