Seán MacBride

MacBride, Seán, 1904–1988, Irish statesman, b. Paris. The son of Irish patriot-actress Maude Gonne and revolutionary Major John MacBride, he moved to Ireland after his father was executed as a leader of the Easter Rebellion (1916). A year later, at 13, he joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA), became its commander at 24, and was active in it for two decades. He also worked as a journalist, earned a law degree, and founded (1936) the nationalist Republican party. After World War II he was a member (1947–58) of the Irish parliament and served as foreign minister (1948–51). From the mid-20th cent. on, MacBride devoted himself to the cause of international human rights. As president of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe, he was a key player in the writing and adopting of the European Convention on Human Rights (1950). A founder and chairman (1961–74) of Amnesty International, he also was active with the International Peace Bureau, the World Federation of United Nations Associations, and other human-rights groups and served (1973–77) as assistant secretary-general of the UN and commissioner for Namibia. In recognition of his humanitarian work he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.

See his memoir (2005, ed. by C. Lawlor); biography by A. J. Jordan (1993); E. Keane, Irish Statesman and Revolutionary: The Nationalist and Internationalist Politics of Seán MacBride (2006).

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