Why Climate Change is a Threat to Human Rights


Mary Robinson

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Audio Recording

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Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland and more recently United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has spent most of her life as a human rights advocate. She is the superb example of a woman politician who puts her humanity very much at the forefront of her politics. She now chairs the Council of Women World Leaders and is a member of the Global Commission on International Migration.

As an academic, legislator and barrister, she has always sought to use law as an instrument for social change, arguing landmark cases before the European Court of Human Rights as well as in the Irish courts and the European Court in Luxembourg. In 1988 Mary Robinson and her husband, Nicholas Robinson, founded the Irish Centre for European Law at the University of Dublin, and since 1998 she has been Chancellor of the University.

The recipient of numerous honors and awards throughout the world, President Robinson is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the American Philosophical Society and is Honorary President of Oxfam International as well as Penal Reform International. A member of the Club of Madrid - a group of former heads of state and government, she serves on many boards including the Vaccine Fund, and chairs the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Based in New York, President Robinson is currently leading the Ethical Globalization Initiative (EGI), supported by a partnership of the Aspen Institute, Columbia University (where she is a professor of practice) and the Swiss based International Council on Human Rights Policy. Its goal is to bring the norms and standards of human rights into the globalization process and to support capacity building in good governance in developing countries. A Council of Goodwill Ambassador, she also serves on the International Commission of Jurists and is Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

President Robinson was educated at the University of Dublin (Trinity College), King's Inns Dublin, and Harvard Law School to which she won a fellowship in 1967. She holds honorary doctorates from over 40 universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh.