Mary Robinson’s problematic actions not worthy of award

Amid the controversy surrounding Mary Robinson’s selection for a presidential award, our previous posting documented her 1997-2002 record as UN rights chief as monitored over time by UN Watch.

The evidence is clear. As described by the late Tom Lantos, throughout the lead-up to the 2001 Durban conference Mary Robinson was part of the problem, not the solution. At preparatory sessions in Tehran and Geneva she consistently justified and encouraged a selective focus on Israel. While she did make statements against anti-Semitic manifestations at the conference itself, these were too little and too late. Robinson may not have been the chief culprit of the Durban debacle, but she is its preeminent symbol.

The problem was not just Durban. UN Watch interacted with Robinson when she was U.N. rights chief in Geneva from 1997 to 2002 and closely monitored her tenure. Though she did speak out aptly in various instances, Robinson consistently displayed one-sided criticism of Israel matched with indifference to Palestinian terrorism.

The U.S. government rightly stood up for principle in April when it opposed any reaffirmation of the flawed 2001 Durban declaration. Whatever her other accomplishments, Robinson’s actions in the Durban process and the bias she displayed throughout her tenure as UN human rights chief were not worthy of this award.

1 Response to “Mary Robinson’s problematic actions not worthy of award”


  • Add one more, when Robinson was high commissioner for human rights: overseeing in December 2000 an MOU with the Chinese government that committed China to participation in U.N. programs aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights but that failed to allow monitoring or specify objectives and guidelines that actually measured human rights improvements. The MOU was watered down to emphasize “dialogue” and allowed China to vet all U.N. officers and human rights experts. It was signed at a time when the Chinese government was engaged in a ferocious and brutal campaign against the Falun Dafa, the religious group, thousands of whose adherents had been arrested and sent to labor camps the previous year. Robinson hailed the MOU as a “milestone.”

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