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《TAIPEI TIMES》 Mary Robinson awarded the Tang Prize in Rule of Law

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Former Irish president Mary Robinson is pictured in Berlin on June 3. 
Photo: CNA

\\192.168.5.8\news\ok_retouch_folder\20240622\p03-240622-603.jpg Former Irish president Mary Robinson is pictured in Berlin on June 3.  Photo: CNA

2024/06/22 03:00

/ Staff writer, with CNA

Former Irish president Mary Robinson has been awarded the Tang Prize in Rule of Law for her decades-long dedication to global advocacy of such causes as climate justice and human rights, the award’s selection committee announced yesterday.

Robinson has demonstrated “an effective combination of legal acumen and practical solutions” in her “powerful advocacy” for climate justice, human rights, gender equality and poverty alleviation, said Chang Wen-chen (張文貞), chair of the Tang Prize Selection Committee for Rule of Law.

She “transformed the various positions in which she served to promote human rights, gender equality, the rights of the minority and most importantly, rule of law,” Chang, a National Taiwan University (NTU) law professor, said at a press conference in Taipei.

On the global stage, she has called for the private sector to shoulder responsibility for gender equality and climate justice, while advocating the need for women’s participation in climate-related decisionmaking, Chang said.

Robinson, 80, has since 2018 chaired The Elders, an international non-governmental organization founded by former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela more than a decade ago.

Another member of the group, former Norwegian prime minister and former WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland, is also a Tang Prize laureate, having received the Sustainable Development Award in 2014.

As the chairperson of the group, Robinson has spoken out against climate injustice, saying that protecting individuals and communities from the climate crisis should be an integral part of human rights promotion.

Robinson’s previous global roles include serving as the UN high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002, and the UN special envoy on climate and other initiatives from 2014 to 2016.

Li Pei-jung (李佩蓉), a postdoctoral researcher at NTU’s College of Law, said that as UN high commissioner, Robinson consistently “urged the UN to take proactive actions to enhance human rights protections.”

She traveled globally to “strengthen human rights monitoring” and “drew global attention to the human rights and justice issues faced by the most disadvantaged groups,” Li said.

In addition, Robinson “bravely addressed sensitive issues,” Li said, citing her promotion of prisoners’ rights in the US military-controlled Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba and her visit to Tibet in 1998 following Beijing’s crackdown on a peaceful demonstration there.

Before becoming a global voice, Robinson was president of the Republic of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and throughout her time in office, she transformed the ceremonial role into a strong voice for human rights at home and abroad, Li said.

Robinson was the first foreign head of state to visit Somalia during the 1992 famine, and Rwanda after the genocide in 1994.

Born in 1944, Robinson started her career as a barrister in 1967 to represent minorities in court.

Robison was elected senator in 1969 at the age of 25, and in the following two decades, she introduced and supported bills on gender equality and pushed for reforms in a relatively conservative society, Li said.

Beyond serving in public positions for more than six decades, Robinson has continued to work in academia.

She has contributed to legal education since 1969 around the world as a law professor, and written extensively about human rights and climate justice.

She is an adjunct professor for climate justice at her alma mater, Trinity College Dublin.

The Tang Prize is a biennial award established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), chairman of the Ruentex Group, to honor people who have made prominent contributions in four categories — sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law.

A cash prize of NT$40 million (US$1.23 million) and an additional NT$10 million in research funding are allocated to each award category, the Tang Prize Foundation said.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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