Announcing the appointment, NUI Galway President Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh said Mr Higgins' impressive record in defense of human rights made his new role at the centre one which would further enhance his long association with the University.
Professor William Schabas, Director of the IRCH, welcomed the appointment: "We are thrilled that such an important and influential personality in the area of human rights within Ireland will be working with us so closely", he said.
Throughout his career, Deputy Higgins has campaigned for human rights and written extensively about conflicts in many parts of the world, including such areas as Turkey, Western Sahara, Nicaragua, Chile, Gaza, The West Bank, Peru, El Salvador, Iraq and Somalia. His human rights campaigning work was recognized internationally when he became the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize of the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki in 1992.
A graduate of National University of Ireland Galway, Michael D. Higgins received the University's AIB Alumni Award for Literature, Communications and the Arts and continues to play an active role in campus life.