Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (née Bourke) served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002.

She resigned from the presidency two months ahead of the end of her term of office to take up her post in the United Nations. Robinson has been Honorary President of Oxfam International since 2002 and of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization EIUC since 2005, she is Chair of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and is also a founding member and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. Robinson is also one of the European members of the Trilateral Commission.

After leaving the UN in 2002, Robinson formed Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which came to a planned end at the end of 2010. Its core activities were 1) fostering equitable trade and decent work, 2) promoting the right to health and more humane migration policies, and 3) working to strengthen women's leadership and encourage corporate responsibility. The organization also supported capacity building and good governance in developing countries.

Robinson returned to live in Ireland at the end of 2010, and has set up The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, which aims to be 'a center for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those many victims of climate change who are usually forgotten - the poor, the disempowered and the marginalized across the world.'

Robinson is Chair of the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Chancellor of the University of Dublin. Since 2004, she has also been Professor of Practice in International Affairs at Columbia University, where she teaches international human rights.

Robinson sits on the Board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organization which supports good governance and great leadership in Africa, and is a member of the Foundation’s  Ibrahim Prize Committee. She serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project. The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.

In 2004, she received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights.

In 2002 she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for her outstanding work as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and in 2003 the prestigious Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold of the United Nations Association of Germany in Berlin.

In May 2005 she was awarded the first "Outspoken" award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

In July 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States.

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