Mary Robinson 'honoured' by new UN Special Envoy role

Tuesday 19 March 2013 10.20
All UNSC members supported Mary Robinson's candidacy
All UNSC members supported Mary Robinson's candidacy

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson has been confirmed to a special new position in the United Nations.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed her as the Special Envoy to the troubled Great Lakes region of Africa.

Security Council members had until this afternoon to object to her appointment, but all members supported her candidacy.

Mrs Robinson will be charged with implementing a UN supported agreement to end the vicious cycles of violence in the central African region.

In a statement, Mrs Robinson said she is honoured that the UN Secretary General had entrusted her with this important responsibility.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the region with allegations that powerful countries in central Africa and those with significant economic interests have been stoking conflict in neighbouring countries.

It is understood that she and her team will be based in Dublin and Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, for the duration of the appointment.

Mrs Robinson is expected to visit the region in the coming weeks.

She will also continue as president of the Mary Robinson Foundation, Climate Justice.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore welcomed Mrs Robinson’s appointment.

He said her exceptional skills and experience as well as her global profile and reputation make her the ideal choice for the role.

"Ireland has had a long and significant involvement in efforts to promote peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country which has for far too long endured conflict and tragedy," Mr Gilmore said.

"Ireland strongly supports the leadership offered by the United Nations, and in particular the personal diplomatic engagement of the Secretary-General, in this renewed effort to break the cycle of violence in eastern DRC."

Justin Kilcullen, Executive Director of Trócaire, said Mrs Robinson was a champion for social justice and advocate for the rights of others.

"She has vast experience and leadership skills and the announcement that she is now to become UN Special Envoy to the region will give great hope that at last a solution will be found to the conflict in this complex part of the world which for so long has endured immense suffering," he said.