Mary Robinson has devoted a great deal of her life to campaigning for human rights. She holds degrees in law from King's Inns in Dublin and Harvard University. At 25, she became the youngest Reid Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College Dublin.
As a Senator in the Irish Senate from 1969 to 1989, Robinson worked hard to achieve social change, a liberalization and modernization of the Irish legal system, and more rights for women and minorities. Although these objectives were highly controversial at the time in Ireland, Robinson pursued them doggedly.
Mary Robinson is an advocate for the poor and the weak. She gives a voice to those who are not usually heard. After Robinson was elected in 1990 as the first woman President of Ireland, she used her position to condemn human rights violations worldwide, particularly in regions in crisis and developing countries. Her commitment to humanitarian cooperation took her to various countries including Somalia and Rwanda, where she was the first head of state to visit the country after the genocide of 1994.
As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997–2002) Robinson set new standards. She succeeded in making the protection of human rights part of every UN policy and in drawing more international attention to this issue. Thanks to her commitment clear standards have been created that serve to monitor the observance of human rights worldwide. After her term as UN High Commissioner had ended, Robinson started the movement Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative and is currently its president. Its goal is to make globalization a positive force for all people around the world.
Robinson is also president of the International Commission of Jurists, honorary president of Oxfam, and a member of The Elders – a group of persons committed to solving global problems.