Mary Lawlor Appointed to top United Nations Human Rights Position

2nd April 2020

Mary Lawlor, adjunct professor and a member of the Trinity Business School advisory board, has been appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

Ms Lawlor was appointed during the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council held recently. She has decades of experience in human rights and has played an important role for years on many fronts – both domestic and international.

Having founded Front Line Defenders in 2001, Ms Lawlor’s newly founded NGO went on to become one of the leading organisations under her stewardship in providing resources for the protection and security of human rights defenders at risk, with a global reach and ability to respond to human rights defenders’ needs in emergencies.

Ms Lawlor is also an adjunct professor at the Centre for Social Innovation at Trinity Business School, where she takes a lead on business and human rights.  The centre most recently launched the first report on Irish business compliance with UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs), with Eamon Gilmore, EU Representative on Human Rights, acting as keynote speaker on the day.

In the role of UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms Lawlor will seek, receive and act on the situation of human rights defenders, report to the UN in New York and Geneva, conduct country visits, and make recommendations to governments.

Commenting on her recent appointment Mary Lawlor said: “Those that peacefully defend the rights of others at great personal risk deserve the support and protection of the UN. I will work to help prevent the attacks, imprisonment and killings of human rights defenders. I am very grateful to the Irish Government for its support and will do my best to honour the mandate entrusted to me.”

“The values of Trinity Business School to ‘put in more than you take out’ and the mission of the Centre for Social Innovation to make a positive impact on society and the environment will keep me grounded as I carry out my responsibilities.”

Trinity Business School looks forward to seeing and supporting Ms Lawlor in her new role to advance and strengthen support for human rights defenders around the world, even as unprecedented threats and attacks are occurring on a daily basis.