Mary Robinson

    Mary Robinson

      Chair of the Elders

      First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; a passionate advocate for gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building, human dignity and climate justice.

      Mary Robinson is a globally recognised voice on climate change and frequently highlights the need for drastic action from world leaders, as well as the intersectionality of the climate emergency: from intergenerational injustice to gender inequality and biodiversity loss.

      Mary Robinson was elected Irish President in 1990 and served for seven years as a principled and transformative leader who fought for equality and women’s rights throughout her time in office. A firm believer in dialogue and reconciliation, she broke taboos by being the first Irish head of state to make official visits to Britain, as well as regularly visiting Northern Ireland.

      As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), Mary Robinson integrated human rights into the United Nations system and became renowned as an outspoken voice dedicated to investigating and exposing human rights abuses across the world.

      Mary Robinson co-founded the Council of Women World Leaders in 1996, a network that mobilises women leaders at the highest levels to promote democracy and gender equality. She is a member and former president of the Club of Madrid, a group of global leaders working on governance and conflict issues.

      Between 2013 and 2016, Mary Robinson served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy in three roles; first for the Great Lakes region of Africa, then on Climate Change until the end of December 2015 which saw the successful conclusion of the COP21 Climate Summit and the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change and most recently as Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. She served in this post along with Macharia Kamau of Kenya to focus the world’s attention to meet the urgent challenges posed by extreme weather events on the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

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