Receiving the award in front of hundreds of graduating law students, the President paid tribute to the university’s Professors Shabas and Castellino, both of whom have been heavily involved with the Irish Centre for Human Rights.
“The Irish people owe a great debt to Professors Shabas and Castellino and their staff for establishing Ireland as an activist in human rights advocacy and advancement and, most valuably, in areas and among people of the greatest vulnerability,” President Higgins said.
The former academic also called on the graduating students to bring humanity “through the intellectual winter towards the promise of a worthy intellectual spring”.
Middlesex University’s vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Driscoll, said: “President Michael D. Higgins has campaigned tirelessly for democracy and the rights of people all over the world and added to his distinguished service in politics and education, his contribution to public life has been outstanding.
“It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring figure for the Middlesex University law students he will graduate alongside.”