In accordance with article 2 of the constitution of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation concerning the enhancement of the position of the humanities, social sciences and the arts and the promotion of appreciation of these fields within society, His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Patron of the Foundation, has confirmed the decision of the Board of the Foundation to award the Erasmus Prize for the year 1999 to Mary Robinson.

The prize is awarded to Mrs Robinson on the following grounds:

  • At a time when ethical values tend to be made subordinate to policies dominated by market and power orientations, Mrs Robinson is untiring in her efforts to promote fundamental values and to defend these against claims that they cannot be considered universal.
  • She has called attention to the rights of minorities and the enforcement of these rights, at local, national and international levels, and emphasized that in civil society respect for the enforcement of human rights should be part of every citizen’s collective responsibility.
  • As a lawyer and politician, she has given a strong impetus to the emancipation of women, arguing that women’s rights are an essential component of human rights.
  • As a university professor of law, she has instilled in students a sense of European citizenship and enthusiasm for Europe.
  • She has taken an active part in bringing Irish society closer to that of continental Europe, by her successful efforts to introduce European law into the legal system.
  • Mrs Robinson upholds ethical standards for political conduct and has shown the world how to put these into practice, with wisdom, courage, and pragmatism.
  • As President of the Republic of Ireland, she has shown how the function of the presidency can be used in order to smooth political controversies.
  • Mary Robinson fulfils her assignment as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in an admirable manner: she demands respect for such fundamental values as human dignity, engaging in battle with the skills of an international politician and the tenacity of an activist, driven by the power of arguments.
  • In conclusion: by awarding the prize to Mary Robinson, we also implicitly manifest our appreciation of the work of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.