SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS MARY ROBINSON, PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, AS UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS19970612 Biographical Note Secretary-General Kofi Annan today announced the appointment of Mary Robinson, President of Ireland, as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In that capacity, she will assume principal responsibility for the human rights activities of the Organization, including the tasks of streamlining the human rights machinery throughout the United Nations system and supervising the Centre for Human Rights in Geneva.
Ms. Robinson, President of Ireland since 1990, has outstanding legal qualifications and has worked in the area of human rights with special expertise in constitutional and European human rights law. She became a member of the English Bar (Middle Temple) in 1973. She served as a member of the International Commission of Jurists (1987-1990) and of the Advisory Commission of Inter-Rights (1984-1990).
Among the numerous international activities relating to human rights in which she participated, Ms. Robinson served as Special Rapporteur to the Interregional Meeting organized in 1993 by the Council of Europe on the theme "Human rights at the Dawn of the 21st Century", as part of its preparation for the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. She delivered the keynote address at the Council of Europe preparatory meeting for the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.
Ms. Robinson was the first Head of State to visit Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide there and made two further visits, the most recent to address the Pan-African Conference on "Peace, Gender and Development". While in Rwanda she met representatives of, and was briefed by, agencies on the ground, as well as by the United Nations Human Rights Monitors. She was also the first Head of State to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as well as the first Head of State to visit Somalia following the crisis there in 1992. Ms. Robinson received the Special CARE Humanitarian Award in recognition of her efforts for Somalia.
As Ireland's Head of State, Ms. Robinson represented her country internationally, developing a new sense of Ireland's economic, political and cultural links with other countries and cultures. She placed special emphasis during her Presidency on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today's nutrition, poverty and policy
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issues, thus creating a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries.
Ms. Robinson has supported the work of international non-governmental organizations responding to humanitarian crises, notably in Somalia and Rwanda, as well as those engaged in community self-help projects, such as GOAL/Children in Need Institute project in Calcutta, India.
Ms. Robinson served as a Senator from 1969 to 1989. She was a member of the Irish Joint Parliamentary Committee on the European Community Secondary Legislation from 1973 to 1989, Chairman of the Parliamentary Social Affairs Subcommittee from 1977 to 1987 and Chairman of its Legal Affairs Subcommittee from 1987 to 1989. She was a member of the Dublin City Council from 1979 to 1983, and a member of the Irish Parliamentary Joint Committee on Marital Breakdown from 1983 to 1985. From 1973 to 1990, she was President of CHERISH, the Irish association of single parents.
She was called to the bar in 1967, becoming a Senior Counsel in 1980. Later, she founded and was Director of the Irish Centre for European Law (1988-1990).
Ms. Robinson was Reid Professor of Constitutional and Criminal Law at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1969 to 1975. She was also a Lecturer in European Community Law at Trinity College. She was a member of the editorial board of the Irish Current Law Statutes Annotated from 1984 to 1990.
Educated at Trinity College, Dublin University, she received a bachelor's degree in 1967 and a Master of Arts degree in 1970. Also in 1967 she received a Barrister-at-Law degree from the King's Inns, in Dublin. She was a fellow at Harvard University in 1967, where she earned a Master of Laws degree in 1968.
Born on 21 May 1944 in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland, Ms. Robinson is married and has three children.
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