The president was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences for spreading humanist values, for his activity in the area of human rights and for preserving his country's heritage.

Higgins is known in his country as a moderate campaigner for human rights, peace and democratic values. He became the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize of the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki in 1992.

The Irish president holds Honorary Doctorates from Indiana University, the University of Western Australia and other universities.