The former President, Mary Robinson has been awarded the Prince of Asturias prize for social sciences.
The prize is the most prestigious to be awarded in Spain and is given to people for outstanding contributions to areas ranging from the arts and science to sports and international cooperation.
The jury had singled out Robinson's 'moral strength', her defence of 'ethics in the field of politics and academic research' and her 'tireless efforts to bring about a world without borders'.
Mrs Robinson used the occasion to call on countries to recognize the rights of immigrants.
'Immigration is, when it comes down to it, the human face of globalisation', said Mrs Robinson as she received the award from Spain's Crown Prince Felipe.
Mary Robinson, 62, served as Ireland's first woman President from 1990 to 1997.
From 1997 to 2002 she was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, before founding the Ethical Globalization Initiative, an independent body campaigning for fair trade, human rights and the fight against HIV/AIDS.