Mary Robinson

Born:May 21, 1944 (age 79)
Career:U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1997-2002
President of Ireland, 1990-1997
Irish Senate, 1969-1989
Party:Independent; Labour Party
Education:Trinity College, Dublin
Harvard University

Mary Robinson served as the first woman president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997. She was also the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, serving from 1997 to 2002. Prior to holding office, Robinson served as a senator from 1969 to 1989.

Robinson was born on May 21, 1944, in Ballina, County Mayo. She is a barrister by profession and was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law in Trinity College Dublin when she was 25 years old. With her husband, Nicholas, whom she married in 1970, she founded the Irish Centre for European Law in 1988.

Elected as a representative of the University of Dublin, she was a member of Seanad Éireann (Upper House of Parliament) from 1969 to 1989. She served on the Joint Committee on EC Secondary Legislation (1973 - 1989), where she served as chairwoman of its Social Affairs Sub-Committee (1977 - 1987) and of its Legal Affairs Committee (1987 - 1989). She also served on the Joint Committee on Marital Breakdown (1983 - 1985). She was a member of Dublin City Council from 1979 to 1983). On December 3, 1990, Robinson was inaugurated as the seventh president of Ireland. She resigned from the presidency on September 12, 1997, to accept an appointment as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which she held until 2002.

Robinson still works to promote human rights and equality. In 2002, she founded Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, and in 2009 President Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Photo by World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.


The Elders (n.d.). “Mary Robinson” The Elders . Retrieved December 9, 2022.

Marsh, M. (2001, February 15). “Mary Robinson" Britannica. Retrieved December 9, 2022.

Office of the High Commissioner (n.d.). “Mary Robinson" United Nations. Retrieved December 9, 2022.

President of Ireland (n.d.). “Mary Robinson” President of Ireland. Retrieved December 9, 2022.