Wednesday, June 29

Mary Robinson offers her vision of Europe’s biggest challenges


Mary Robinson is the former President of Ireland, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the current President of the Elders. That’s a group of independent world leaders that Nelson Mandela brought together in 2007 to work together for peace and human rights. Mary Robinson has had a long and prestigious career. He took the time to share some of his thoughts with Euronews on the COVID-19 pandemic, inequalities, migration, climate change, and even Princess Latifah.

What would be the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dangerously widening gap between countries, populations and social classes?

The Elders President Mary Robinson:

“It is very worrying, the Elders have been talking a lot about the fact that Covid has exacerbated all inequalities, inequalities of race, gender, having a disability, being marginalized, being a migrant, being a refugee, all exacerbated. And it’s going to be difficult because, behind the COVID crisis, we have the climate crisis. So we have to recover from Covid in a way that is also aligned with the need to reduce emissions. So it’s a very decade. , very serious in the one that we face now. And, you know, the inequalities are very, very real and people are suffering a lot. And, you know, we will probably come to this, but women, in particular, have been very affected “.

Studies show that women have assumed most of the care and most of the care of children during the pandemic. It’s 2021 and women in Europe still earn, on average, 14% less per hour than men, with big differences in EU member states. Why is it important to address this as soon as possible?

“It is really important to address what the UN is calling now, what UN women calls ‘generational equality’, and to do it, to mark the 25th anniversary of Beijing, which was actually last year, but we are celebrating it this year with a A particular approach. And it is true that women’s work has been recognized in health, care, even hospital cleaning. Low-paid jobs that we now appreciate more because they have kept open places that otherwise would not be open. And yet women are also disproportionately unemployed, either because they are in sectors such as hospitality, retail, which are particularly affected by COVID, or as you said, they carry a greater burden of care and may have had to withdraw from the workforce due to homeschooling or elderly care and so on. “

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Will this pandemic serve as a wake-up call for Europe? As a continent, we are all aging and we may need to start preparing for the next pandemic or the future.

“Well, in fact, the Elders are very conscientious. We have Gro Harlem Brundtland, one of our elders, and she has been chairing a committee that warned about this pandemic in September before it started last year. And she is studying at part that we may have pandemics in the future. So yeah, the world as a whole needs to be concerned about that. And in fact, I want to try to get us to think in a different way about getting out of COVID. I don’t like, frankly, ‘rebuild better ‘because I don’t think we want to return to the world as unequal that we had. We want to move forward with equality, justice and sustainability, sustainability with nature and with our need to have a livable world for our children and grandchildren. “

One issue that has dominated and divided Europe for years is the question of how to manage migration. How should Europe have better tackled this?

“So we need a much fairer system in Europe. We must not let the Mediterranean countries, particularly Italy and Greece, bear a disproportionate burden that is not fair. And, you know, it has lasted too long. In fact, we have to manage this in a much fairer way … and in the end, we know that migrants who leave in dangerous circumstances and come to another country are entrepreneurs. They are brave, they are brave and they build societies wherever they are. to go. That is the experience “.

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Do you agree that the images we see of immigrant camps in places like Bosnia should embarrass Europe and European politicians?

“I think we really have to do better. You know, we’ve had direct provision in Ireland and we’re reforming what we’re doing because we recognize that, you know, a community is judged by how you treat prisoners and how you deal with those who They have had to come because they are fleeing conflict or persecution elsewhere. And I think that, you know, it is necessary to focus on these social justice issues, in addition to coming out of Covid with much more comprehensive social security systems across Europe and more. there “.

As an elder, you are a peace activist. How concerned are you now about Anglo-Irish relations and the fragility of the Good Friday Peace Agreement?

“I think you will understand that it is an issue that I really cannot talk about as a former president, I will stay out of politics in general. But I follow it very closely and in fact with passion. But I do not want to say anything because things are a little tense right now. And that’s not good. “

In Brussels, there was a stir this week among climate change drivers and agitators because John Kerry was saying he wants to work with the EU to help them achieve their ambitious green goals. What must politicians and big business do to make sure this European continent is carbon neutral by 2050?

“We have two huge milestones this year. We have the Convention on Biological Diversity in China and we have the climate conference in Glasgow in November, postponed, both postponed from last year. We need every country and corporation and every investment company. and every community basically to say that we will be emission-free, you know, emission-free by 2050 or earlier and then work backwards. What does this mean in 2030, in 2025? What does it mean in the commitments what to do for our countries? And so far, we are not on the right track. And if you add up what we know about the countries that are committing themselves, we do not have a safe world. “

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You’ve been in the public eye for decades and a long career like this doesn’t come without a couple of hiccups. His came, of course, in 2018 and in Dubai when he met Princess Latifa. He has spoken a lot about this in recent weeks, he has been honest and said he was naive. Do you feel that the last two years were perhaps a missed opportunity to defend your case more openly?

“I think it is now very important to support the Office of the High Commissioner, the high commissioner who has asked for proof of life and, indeed, to go further with the mandates of the office and seek the release of not only Latifa, but also from her. sister. That’s where the focus should be. “

To see the full interview with Mary Robinson, click on the media player above.


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