Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (née Bourke) (Irish: Máire Mhic Róibín; born 21 May 1944) served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate (1969–1989). She defeated Fianna Fáil's Brian Lenihan and Fine Gael's Austin Currie in the 1990 presidential election becoming, as an Independent candidate nominated by the Labour Party, the Workers' Party and independent senators, the first elected president in the office's history not to have had the support of Fianna Fáil.
She is widely regarded as a transformative figure in the presidency of Ireland, who revitalised and liberalised a previously conservative political office. She resigned the presidency two months ahead of the end of her term of office to take up her post in the United Nations. Robinson has been Honorary President of Oxfam International since 2002 and of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation EIUC since 2005, she is Chair of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and is also a founding member and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. Robinson is also one of the European members of the Trilateral Commission.
She serves on many boards including as chair of the GAVI Alliance (until 2010). Robinson’s newest project is Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which fosters equitable trade and decent work, promotes the right to health and more humane migration policies, works to strengthen women's leadership and encourage corporate responsibility. The organisation also supports capacity building and good governance in developing countries. She is Chancellor of the University of Dublin. Since 2004, she has also been Professor of Practice in International Affairs at Columbia University, where she teaches international human rights. Robinson also visits other colleges and universities where she lectures on human rights.