Former leader of Ireland to speak on globalization |

Former leader of Ireland to speak on globalization

Eben Harrell
Special to The Aspen Times

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, will speak Tuesday in a talk sponsored by The Aspen Institute.

Robinson, who left the United Nations last September to become executive director of the Ethical Globalization Initiative (EGI), will examine the impact globalization has had on human rights around the world. Her talk is entitled “Making Globalization Work for all the World’s People.”

The EGI attempts to balance the expansion of world markets with the protection of human rights. It works in partnership with other international organizations, including The Aspen Institute, to bring activists, corporate leaders and policy makers together for dialogue.

“Our basic goal at EGI is to find a language that both economists and human rights activists can be comfortable with,” Robinson said. “It’s a consultative process … but we really feel like we’re breaking new ground.”

At the heart of the project is a return to the commitment of the U.N. Millennium Declaration, an agreement signed by heads of state in September 2000. The priority of the agreement was the commitment that globalization should benefit developed and developing economies alike.

Robinson believes the events of September 11 have sidelined this commitment, making the security of developed nations – including economic security – the highest priority. Yet she also believes that a commitment to a democratic globalization process is ultimately the soundest way to offer developed nations the security they so desperately seek.

“Certainly, we should focus on the commitment of the Millennium Declaration to half those in poverty by 2015,” Robinson said. “But this commitment to soften globalization and temper economic exploitation will ultimately benefit us, too. We need to address the threat to homeland security not just in terms of its symptoms – namely, terrorism – but at the deeper, root level as well. That’s how we can make globalization work for all the world’s people, including us.”

Robinson calls Aspen a “good forum” for her talk, as the town typically draws the elite from various fields of leadership.

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