Mary Robinson Honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

July 31, 2009

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim Spiegelman
VP/Communications & Public Affairs
The Aspen Institute
 Tel. 202-736-3849

Robinson, the President of Realizing Rights at the Aspen Institute,
Called an “Agent of Change”

Washington, DC, July 31, 2009–The Aspen Institute proudly announces that Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland (1990-1997) and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), has been named one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Robinson currently serves as the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative at the Aspen Institute.

In announcing the awards, President Barack Obama said, “These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.

“Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive. It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom.”

Read the statement from Realizing Rights on this honor.

Robinson brings her experience in international affairs and as a barrister, academic, and legislator to Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, where she aims to put human rights standards at the heart of global governance and policymaking and to ensure that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are addressed on the global stage.

“I am both humbled and honored to be awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama. None of us achieves what we have done without the support of others, so I am aware that many other people share in this honor. It is wonderful to be recognized in such extraordinary company,” said Mary Robinson.

President Obama will present the awards at a ceremony on Wednesday, August 12.

Learn more about Mary Robinson and her work at Realizing Rights.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, CO, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners. For more information, visit  



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