An autobiography from one of the world's leading political figures provides a special insight into ongoing civil and human rights questions.
Oxfam International honorary president Robinson explores the events that shaped her qualifications for the role she played on the global stage. An early advocate of church/state separation and a career of legal advocacy led her first to the Irish Senate, then to the country's presidency, then to a position as the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights. Educated in Paris during the Algerian War, Robinson writes about how her views of human rights were shaped philosophically and legally: “I went back to reading about Gandhi…I read more of Martin Luther King.” This foundation stayed with her as she qualified for law degrees on both sides of the Atlantic and began to work in areas where conflict between personal morality and criminal codes became a source of unjust individual suffering. Ireland's European treaty commitments on human rights provided a lever to secure advances within her own country, which both benefited the cause of individual Irish men and women as well as people throughout Europe. Robinson describes winning Josie Airey the right to separate from an abusive husband “as the type of case [she] loved.” Successful political advocacy helped her become Ireland's first female president, and Robinson recounts how she transformed the office. Later controversies arising during the Iraq War have not undermined her international stature. She bases her view of human rights on FDR's “Four Freedoms, and she emphasizes the importance of the universal right to “decent work.”
A worthy addition to the growing list of memoirs from world-class servants of the public.