Mary Robinson became the first female President of Ireland in 1990. She was very popular and worked hard to address the needs of all groups in her nation. She also used her position to help bring global crises to the attention of the international community. In 1992, she was the first leader to visit famine-stricken Somalia, and she was the first to witness the devastation in Rwanda after the genocide that had taken place there. In 1997 she resigned her position as President of Ireland to accept the role of High Commissioner for Human Rights with the UN, where she championed human rights around the world and rallied international support against numerous human rights abuses.
After leaving the UN in 2002, Mary Robinson has been involved with many different efforts. She has been Honorary President of Oxfam International since 2002; she is Chair of the International Institute for Environment and Development; Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders; and founder of Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which promotes equitable trade and development, more humane migration policies, women's leadership and corporate social responsibility.
In 2007, she was one of the founding members of The Elders, a global group of social change leaders. For her dedication to promoting human rights, Mary Robinson received the Sydney Peace Prize in 2002, and in 2004 was awarded Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award.
Robinson is president of the Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. She was the president of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002, and is now a member of The Elders and the Club of Madrid. She is also a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, and between March 2013 and August 2014 she served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Robinson’s memoir, Everybody Matters, was published in 2012.
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