Mary Robinson has said that she would not be seeking another term of office as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The former Irish President's current appointment ends in September.
Mrs Robinson had already extended her initial four-year term for an extra year at the request of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. She made the announcement this morning in a speech at the annual UN Convention on Human Rights in Geneva.
There had been speculation that Mrs Robinson wanted to stay on. However, the United States is thought to have opposed any extension of her mandate after she questioned the American bombing campaign in Afghanistan and criticised the treatment of Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners.
The Taoiseach today praised Mrs Robinson as a "fearless and tenacious advocate" of human rights around the world. "She has never flinched from speaking out when and wherever she perceived a threat to fundamental rights and freedoms," said Bertie Ahern.
The Tánaiste paid tribute to Mrs Robinson, saying she had made a truly remarkable contribution to political life, both nationally and internationally. Mrs Harney said that Mrs Robinson had displayed honour, courage and conviction in her role with the United Nations.