Resources for Teachers and Students on Mary Robinson
Prepare: Mary Robinson served as
the first female president of Ireland, as well as
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
An article about her tenure as High Commissioner can
be found in the
BBC archives. She was the 1999 Fulbright laureate
for International Understanding, and has a Fulbright
Read: Mary Robinson's Architects
of Peace essay, titled "The Journey to Peace:
Finding Ourselves in the Other," is excerpted
from the Sadat Lecture for Peace she gave at the University
of Maryland on March 17th, 2004. In it she discuses
patterns of discrimination that society wedges between
groups in conflict.
Explore: The concept of "ethical
globalization" acknowledges that shared responsibility
to uphold human dignity does not stop at national
borders. Mary Robinson chairs the Board of Directors
of an organization known as the Ethical Globalization
Initiative, EGI, which concerns itself with such issues
as humane migration practices, equitable trade, and
the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. The EGI
homepage, contains the latest news about such
issues, and provides access to resources in ethical
Write: In her Architects of Peace
essay, Mary Robinson observes that some people in
leadership positions worry that human rights concerns
might get in the way of winning the war against terrorism.
She calls such concerns "wrong thinking."
Are they? What's wrong with giving security concerns
priority over concerns for human rights during times
of crisis and conflict? Can't human rights concerns
wait until peace and security have been guaranteed?
Compose a three-to-five page reflective paper on these
questions in which you propose, in the form of an
ethical principle, the appropriate balance between
human rights concerns and concern for domestic security.
Extend: The Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR,
was established in 1993 to promote international cooperation
in assuring human rights. Mary Robinson was the second
person to hold this office. OHCHR runs an internship
program, a fellowship program, and provides scholarship
opportunities for those studying human rights issues.
As well as being a source for news about UN efforts
in promoting human rights, the OHCHR website provides
resources such as a library and media center. There
is an English
version of the homepage.
Additional Resources: The Council
of Women World Leaders, CWWL, on which Mary Robinson
is an active participant, strives to "enhance
the experience of democracy globally by increasing
the number, effectiveness, and visibility of women
who lead at the highest levels in their countries."
The CWWL is affiliated both with Columbia University
and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
of Mary Robinson
Photo courtesy of
Mary Robinson. Michael Collopy's portrait of Mary
Robinson is forthcoming.