I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.— Mary Robinson
The most unexpected Mary Robinson quotes you will be delighted to read
If we took away barriers to women's leadership, we would solve the climate change problem a lot faster
Human rights are inscribed in the hearts of people;
they were there long before lawmakers drafted their first proclamation.
Today's human rights violations are the causes of tomorrow's conflicts.
To make progress we have to build a multi-stakeholder process, harnessing the appropriate energies.
A culture is not an abstract thing. It is a living, evolving process. The aim is to push beyond standard-setting and asserting human rights to make those standards a living reality for people everywhere.
If we want to make progress in key areas now, we have to build a multi-stakeholder process, harnessing the appropriate energies. So not only the politicians but also business, the wider civil society, and the trade union movement all have a contribution to make, whether it is at national or at international level.
Climate change is the greatest threat to human rights in the 21st century.
An endless war against terrorism can tend to inflate the terrorists, because being at war is attractive to some angry, unemployed, disaffected youth.
If you are small and don't particularly want credit for what you are doing, you can achieve a lot.
I want to take human rights out of their box.
I want to show the relevance of the universal principles of human rights to the basic needs of health, security, education and equality.
The fight for human rights is about speaking truth to power.
We now know that climate change is a driver of migration, and is expected to increase the displacement of populations.
Young persons, because of their immaturity, may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions and should therefore benefit from less severe sanctions than adults. More importantly, it reflects the firm belief that young persons are more susceptible to change, and thus have a greater potential for rehabilitation than adults.
Tackling the issue of climate change presents us with an inflection point in human history - a climate justice revolution that separates development from fossil fuels, supports people in the most vulnerable situations to adapt, allows all people to take part, and, most importantly, realise their full potential.
When I am asked, "What, in your view, is the worst human rights problem in the world today?" I reply: "Absolute poverty." This is not the answer most journalists expect. It is neither sexy nor legalistic. But it is true.
There's a worldwide linking of environmental activists, developmental experts and human rights advocates. And they're using the two frameworks, in particular environmental standards and human rights.
Freedom from discrimination for women, ensuring that female children can learn to read, these are human needs for half the human race, not western values.
The Snow-drop, Winter's timid child, Awakes to life, bedew'd with tears.
The MDGs have been useful in moving human rights and development discourse together and in highlighting the need for greater accountability at all levels.
The fossil-fuel-based development model has not benefitted all people and those who have benefitted least are now suffering great harm in the face of climate change.
Maybe this society, if anything, has become more patriarchal, and that has to be combated.
I'm not interested in scoring points or being over-critical of the US administration. I want to find the entry points to try and get it back on track so that the United States can get out of the present disastrous situation it's in, and back into being a constructive force for human rights in the world.
Democracy is about constant vigilance.
It's not straightforward, there will always be setbacks and you get particular be it religious fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalism - a partly conservative approach and actually trying to put women in a more traditional role. And we have to resist that.
Many people today in the developed countries are so far removed from poverty and suffering and starvation that they lack empathy for the sufferings of others.
I have a sense that South Africa is my other country apart from my native country that I particularly love, [that I] want to see succeed, and I did really want my message to be listened to.
The corporate sector per se is bottom-line oriented.
It can be very corrupt and it is not very principled. That is why I don't think it is sufficient just to have voluntary codes of behavior. I am in favor of legislation which helps to ensure that there is an even playing field and rewards those who play by the rules.
In general, I don't think that economic, social and cultural rights are primarily a matter of going to court. They are most useful today as commitments which can help ensure effective and equitable policy-making at every level.
We must encourage energy conservation and sustainable development.
Young people are the ones who are most environmentally conscious in Ireland, so that to some extent they are educating their parents. They are tackling issues of waste disposal and so on. The schools help, because they put a lot of stress on environmental awareness.
I do not support individual countries taking military action against another country because of its human rights record, or subsequently justifying taking such action on human rights grounds.
When globalisation means that many of the services that individual governments used to have direct power over are privatised, in education and health, even prison services, nonetheless national sovereignty still needs to be exercised.
The structures of the WTO need to be reformed to increase participation.
There must be a greater sense of shared ownership of the substance of the trade negotiation agenda. Decisions about issues to be negotiated, and in which sequence they should be taken, should rest with all WTO members, not only the most powerful.
It is people who go through suffering that have an empathy for the suffering of others.
South Africa is regarded as being an extraordinarily important country - not just for South Africa, but for Southern Africa, for the BRICS, working now in a new way in which power is becoming more shared - thankfully.
I think that we have refined greatly our notions of sovereignty in the EU.
Its members consider themselves to be sovereign governments, but they have ceded a part of their sovereignty to the Union level, and their sovereignty is now penetrated by EU law.
As a citizen of Ireland I have more sovereignty over our government.
Because citizens now have more ways of holding the Irish government to account, not just under Irish constitutional law, but under the European system, at Strasbourg and Brussels. This, I believe, is the benefit for individual citizens.
If you live in a global world and you want to champion liberty in it, then you have you got to sign up to that global world.
Sharing experience and building public support for the full range of rights is more powerful than legal cases.
Ethical globalization is possible if only we can hold governments and business accountable for respecting human rights, not just in the traditional political and legal realms, but in everything - health, education and the other social determinants of health - rights to food, safe water, sanitation and so on.
When a genocidal killing occurs, as happened in Rwanda, it is not just an internal domestic matter.
Ireland is not in a good place at the moment.
We have our own humiliation of losing our economic sovereignty, and we're now regaining it slowly and painfully.
There are some parts of the business world, in my judgment, that are actually trying to ensure that the U.S. does not take on board the preponderance of arguments for global warming, and that is something I am really very concerned about.
I'm struck by how very few people outside a rarefied world of true believers understand what you mean when you say human rights - that includes development experts and economists who are very keen to implement the UN Millennium Development Goals. They've told me quite frankly, that they don't know exactly what a human rights approach is.
There is a democratic deficit. In Latin America in particular there is real concern that democratic governments are not delivering and that is leading to experimenting with different models that are much less democratic. But even in Western Europe the deficit is a problem.
Companies should increasingly see themselves as major corporate citizens with a wider responsibility to the community. Nothing less than their reputation - their image - is at stake.
The United Nations is actually a mid-20th century institution and much weaker than it was when it was originally created, because governments themselves are less capable of implementing the kind of promises or programs that they have put forward.
The changing climate is a threat to human rights.
Thanks to the European Union, Ireland has a much more open climate of discussion and debate, as you can see in the media. It means that we are a more questioning society, perhaps more honestly prepared to address serious issues and problems, more open to the idea that different viewpoints should be heard and respected.
The governments are seen to be less effective than they used to be.
The private sector is perceived as being so much more efficient, and so globalization implies a transfer of power to the private sector.
I agree with those who argue that it is possible to distil from the religions of the world their common values and relevance. As far as I'm concerned I am involved in a complementary process with people who have a moral or spiritual commitment to human rights.