Human Rights Advocate Calls for Accountability

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), March 4, 2004 | Go to article overview

Human Rights Advocate Calls for Accountability


Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

Former president of Ireland and United Nations high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson told an audience gathered at the University of Oregon that the countries of the world must use the standards in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure that the trend toward globalization is ethical and moral.

Robinson, current director of the Ethical Globalization Initiative and president of Oxfam International, a multi-national group working to solve poverty and other issues, came to Eugene on Wednesday at the request of UO law professor Svitlana Kravchenko to discuss the relationship between globalization and human rights.

Globalization refers most simply to the constant merging of economies and societies, Robinson said.

The phenomenon has led to growing access to cheaper goods and resources, revolutionized communications, and the global spread of ideas and technology - but the benefits have been unevenly distributed, she said.

People in developing countries have been left behind and even harmed by globalization, with 54 countries poorer now than in 1990, she said.

"Worldwide, the number of people living in a chronic state of poverty and daily insecurity hasn't changed much since 1990," she said.

She said in two hours - as long as her talk - that 1,000 children would die unnecessarily of poverty and hunger.

"A world connected by technology, information, exports and commerce must also be connected by a core set of values," she said. Those values exist, but it is up to the people to force governments to act on them.

Many counties ratify treaties and make other commitments regarding human rights, but they're "paper commitments" and not implemented, she said. …

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