Statement in Support of Mary Robinson, Presidential Medal of Honor Awardee
Posted on: Monday, August 10, 2009
Today we join with numerous women’s rights and human rights organizations around the world to salute Mary Robinson’s accomplishments and to celebrate her Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
We commend the Obama Administration for awarding the US Medal of Freedom to former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Mary Robinson. For many years now, Mary has been a strong and unwavering supporter of the slogan made famous at the 1995 Beijing UN Conference for Women: “Women’s rights are Human rights.”
Both as President of Ireland, and later as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, she served as a witness to human rights abuses around the world and brought dignity and integrity to the office and her dealings with all states and peoples. As High Commissioner, Mary used her office to full effect, demonstrating to people around the world that a UN official can and should exemplify courage and compassion.
Mary Robinson has long been a champion of the inherent dignity and equal rights of all people, particularly those whose voices are often marginalized – women and children. As a lawyer in her native Ireland, she brought landmark cases before the courts including legal actions that led to the removal of discrimination against children born out of wedlock, and the achievement of equal pay and opportunity for women in the workplace.
We deplore the tactics of personal attacks, character assassination and misinformation launched by a variety of groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League; suggesting that she is not worthy of this medal.
Mary continues her human rights work today in her capacity as a member of the Elders group, along with Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, as well as her leadership of the Realizing Rights Initiative. A recent Newsweek article states, “Obviously, she has been an indomitable defender of freedom across the globe.” In her numerous activities and leadership roles, Mary Robinson has been and remains a true agent of social change and is richly deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
1) Board of Directors, Global Fund for Women
2) Board of Directors, Urgent Action Fund