To mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights held a two-day, invitation only event on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th October at Mansfield College.

L-R Kate O'Regan, Helena Kennedy, Allida Black, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tracy Roosevelt, Helen Mountfield

Photo courtesy of John Cairns

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt outside the Bonavero Institute in Mansfield College on Monday 8 October and was made an honorary fellow of Mansfield College.  Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States of America, played a key role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 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 of the United States of America 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, as well as 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.

Statue of Eleanor Roosevelt by Penelope Jencks

The bronze statue, by artist Penelope Jencks, presents Eleanor Roosevelt in a quiet and reflective pose and is a second casting of the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt 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 Rodham Clinton then received an Honorary Fellowship of Mansfield College from Helen Mountfield, QC, Principal of Mansfield.

Professor Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, hosted a conference on ‘Confronting Illiberalism: The Role of the Media, Civil Society and Universities’ on Tuesday 9th October, at which Secretary Clinton gave the keynote speech on the rise of illiberalism.  Human rights practitioners, academics, and journalists from around the world engaged 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.

Watch Secretary Clinton's keynote speech  

Read the full transcript of Secretary Clinton's speech