Doctor of Laws for climate justice advocate, former President of Ireland

Posted: 06/21/2016

Left to right: Law Society CEO Robert G.W. Lapper, QC, Law Society Bencher Paul Schabas, Her Excellency Mary Robinson, The Hon. Thomas J. McEwen, Judge of the Superior Court of Justice, Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor

Her Excellency Mary Robinson (centre) holds the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa. (Left to right:) Law Society CEO Robert Lapper, QC, Bencher Paul Schabas, The Hon. Thomas J. McEwen, Judge of the Superior Court of Justice, and Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor.

Her Excellency Mary Robinson was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) in recognition of her work as a transformative international force in advancing human rights and, more recently, climate justice.

An academic, legislator and barrister, Her Excellency has devoted her career to social change by serving as President of Ireland (1990-97), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and founder and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.

She was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change (2014-15), and was recently appointed as a Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate (May 2016). (Read the full biography about Her Excellency Mary Robinson)

The Law Society bestowed the honorary LLD on June 20 during its morning Call to the Bar ceremony for new lawyers at Roy Thomson Hall.

Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor awarded the honorary LLD to Robinson who then delivered separate keynote addresses to new lawyers attending the respective ceremonies.

“There’s a lot to think of, in whatever way you may go through, whether you become practitioners or take your legal expertise and go elsewhere. The world is, to put it mildly, your oyster,” she said. “This is a different world. This is your world. And in particular, a world that you have to safeguard.”

A total of 295 were called at the morning ceremony and another 325 were called at the afternoon Call. The Law Society will call almost 1,600 new lawyers to the Bar of Ontario at ceremonies in OttawaLondon and four calls in Toronto between June 15 and June 21.

Rule of Law event – Climate Justice: The Way Forward Post Paris Agreement

In the evening, Her Excellency was the special guest interview at a Rule of Law event held at the Law Society entitled Climate Justice: The Way Forward Post ‘Paris Agreement’. The Paris Agreement recognizes the need to respect and promote human rights and protect those who are most vulnerable to climate change. The unprecedented call for climate justice was formalized through the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

Rule of Law Climate Justice two-shot - coverage_7608-344x259The Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario attended the event and welcomed Her Excellency to Ontario in her opening remarks.

The interview with Her Excellency was conducted by  Sara Seck Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

The event was held in partnership with the CIGI, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, and the Ontario Bar Association.