Seton Hall University to host human rights advocate Dennis Francis as part of World Leaders Forum

Seton Hall University will host Dennis Francis, president of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, as part of the World Leaders Forum speaker series next Tuesday.

The event will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Chancellor’s Suite of the Bishop Dougherty University Center. Registration is required and the event also will be livestreamed here.

A career diplomat, Francis served as Trinidad and Tobago’s permanent representative to the U.N. He is a strong advocate for human rights and gender equality. In his recent address to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, he expressed deep concern about the impact that conflict and climate change are having around the world.

“Human rights,” he said during the council’s 55th session, “are universal and must be enjoyed by all in equal measure without exception.”

“We are proud to continue the tradition of welcoming influential world leaders such as Ambassador Francis to Seton Hall,” Courtney Smith, dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, said. “The World Leaders Forum gives our students a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges we face in our global society and to also consider how we as individuals have a role in addressing them.”

Francis’ address at Seton Hall marks the latest in a series of recent events featuring leading U.N. diplomats.

In January 2023, Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi, the president of the 77th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, was the featured speaker at the World Leaders Forum. In May 2022, His Excellency António Guterres, U.N. secretary-general, delivered the commencement address at the university’s 166th baccalaureate commencement ceremony. The month before, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield took part in a fireside chat hosted by the School of Diplomacy, answering questions from students about the U.S.’ agenda at the U.N., and diversity within diplomacy and international affairs careers and gender equity. In 2016, Samantha Power, then the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., addressed a rapt audience of students, faculty, staff and alumni the day after President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address. U.N. Secretaries-General Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan also have addressed the Seton Hall community.

The World Leaders Forum provides an opportunity for speakers to encourage dialogue in search of new avenues for building peace. As part of this signature program, the School of Diplomacy has welcomed Nobel Prize winners Leymah Gbowee and Nadia Murad, former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tony Blair, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and former President of Poland Lech Walesa, among other distinguished visitors.