Mary Lawlor has a background of over 35 years experience in human rights. She set up Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - in 2001 https://www.frontlinedefenders.org Front Line Defenders concentrates all its activities on human rights defenders at risk who work non-violently for the rights of others as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The aim is to protect defenders of human rights and provide them with “round the clock” practical support so that they can continue their work to build civil and just societies.
As Director she represents the organisation and has a key role in its development. She has led Front Line missions to the field, managed and evaluated programs, raised funds and has been invited as guest speaker to many international and intergovernmental meetings.
Prior to Front Line, Mary was Director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International from 1988-2000. She became a Board member in 1975 and was elected Chair from1983 - 1987. She has wide experience of developing and sustaining a human rights organisation.
Mary Lawlor has a BA in Psychology and Philosophy and post graduate degrees in Montessori Teaching and Personnel Management.
In 2007, Front Line Defenders was awarded the King Baudouin International Development Prize. The following year, Mary Lawlor was awarded the Irish Life WMB Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008.
In 2011, she received the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Special Recognition Award.
In 2014 she was awarded the French insignia of Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur and an honorary degree of Doctor in Laws from Trinity College Dublin.
In 2016 she was awarded Inaugural Franco German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Presented by Foreign Ministers of Both Countries).