Dr. M.Th.W. (Mary) Robinson

foto Dr. M.Th.W. (Mary) Robinson vergrootglas

Mary Robinson is a former president of the Republic of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and, in 2013, remains Irelands' most popular president to date. She left office a month before her tenure ended to become High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations from 1997 to 2002. Mary Robinson is rumoured to have been considered for the position of president of the European Council. She is a member of The Elders.

Mary Robinson has a background in the legal profession. In both her professional and political life she was and still is an ardent advocate for LGBT rights. She sued to be a member of the Irish Labour Party, but became independent in 1991.


Personal data

Name and surname

Mary Therese Winifired (Mary) Robinson (maiden-name is Bourke)

Date of birth

May 21st 1944

Place of birth

Ballina (Mayo, Ireland)



selected honours and distinctions

A large number of awards, all recognising her efforts to promote human rights

US Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2009



  • Law at Trinity College (University of Dublin) Dublin
  • Law at Harvard Law School, Cambridge Massachusetts


Political affiliation

  • Independent from 1969 to 1977
  • Labour Party from 1977 to 1981
  • Independent from 1981



  • Member of Seanad (Senate), from November 5th 1969 to July 5th 1989
  • Member of Dublin City Council from 1979 to 1983
  • President of the Irish Republic from December 3rd 1990 to September 12th 1997
  • High Commissioner of Human Rights (United Nations), from September 12th 1997 to September 12th 2002
  • Professor of International Relations at Columbia University
  • Councellor at the University of Dublin


Selection of additional functions


  • member of The Elders
  • Honorary co-chair of the World Justice Project
  • active in various other international groups, foundations and organisations


  • professor of Law at the University of Dublin
  • jurist-advisor at the Campaign for Reform of Legislation on Homosexuality
  • honorary presdent of Oxfam International
  • president of the International Institute of Environment and Development
  • president of the council of female World Leaders


Selected references

  • "Everybody matters", Robinson's memoir (2012)


Selected political achievements

  • As president, Robinson advanced further restoration of the relationship with Great Britain
  • Resigned, and many attribute her departure from the UN the result of US pressure. Robinson had been critical of that country's use of capital punishment and the methods deployed in the war on terror
  • Greatly raised the political profile of the High Commissioner