2005 Architects of Peace Award Citation for Mary Robinson
Comments delivered by Ethics Center Executive Director
Kirk O. Hanson at the award ceremony June 25, 2005.
Mary Robinson has pioneered continuing service to her native
Ireland and also to the world through her global service
and many worldwide initiatives. Her commitment to human
rights, particularly to those affected by war, to bridging
the rich-poor gap which is at the heart of so many of the
world's conflicts, sets a standard for all former leaders.
Every aspect of her untiring service and travel on behalf
of the peoples of the world make peace more likely and war
Mary Robinson attended Trinity College Dublin and was appointed
in 1969 as the youngest Reid Professor of Constitutional
Law at Trinity in its history. She was elected an Irish
Senator in the same year and served until she became her
country's president in 1990. She successfully argued landmark
legal cases, particularly in relation to woman's rights.
As president, she elevated what had occasionally been a
figurehead role into a vehicle for highlighting the needs
of the disadvantaged and of raising Ireland's international
profile. I like to think her focus on Ireland's diaspora
- by keeping a candle in the Presidential mansion's window
- helped turn the tide of immigration in 1996 back toward
the new Ireland after a century of outflow.
After her extraordinarily successful service as Irish president,
Mary Robinson immediately assumed in 1997 the position of
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In this
role, she traveled the globe to articulate and establish
the critical link between human rights, particularly women's
rights, and peace. She was the first High Commissioner to
visit China. She strengthened human rights monitoring in
conflict areas such as Kosovo. She noted that the High Commissioner
"has no big stick except the appeal to the moral conscience
of the world." She has certainly made that appeal,
very effectively, but occasionally at a significant personal
Today, Mary Robinson is the model of a former head of state
using her skills, her contacts, her vision and her passion
- for the benefit of the world. She has been a leader in
the democracy movement through the Club of Madrid. She has
helped start and now heads the Council of Women World Leaders,
dedicated to promoting the development of women in governments
around the world. And she is deeply committed to her Realizing
Ethical Globalization Initiative, headquartered in New York.
In her work there, she is working to press the critical
message that economic development is essential to peace,
and to see that corporations too play a role in the fight
for human rights and peace.