independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Robinson vows to continue 'irritating' US

MARY Robinson vowed yesterday to continue "irritating and annoying" powerful interests to protect basic human rights.

Mrs Robinson said she would work "flat out" in her final six months as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

When she left that job, she would seek ways to protect the world's poor from the impoverishing effects of globalisation, she said.

The former Irish president said it was part of her job as defender of human rights around the world to annoy powerful countries.

Accepting she had been critical of the US bombing of Afghanistan and the US treatment of prisoners at Camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, she said human rights in the world had to be protected, even when terrorism was violating people's fundamental right to life.

But she made clear there had been no change in human rights' standards.

"What is very worrying at the moment is the number of queries to our office asking if we could explain how the rules have changed. If it was alright to have military tribunals ... or to detain indefinitely," she said on RTE's Morning Ireland programme. She said human rights remained sacrosanct.

"The fact that this either irritates or annoys the US or any other state that is, I'm afraid, part of the job," she said.

The integrity of human rights was under threat since the September 11 terror attacks in the US. But all 53 countries on the Commission on Human Rights must look to see how to advance human rights rather than just seeking to protect their own interests, she said.

When she left her post, she hoped to use her skills to bring about more ethical and fair "rules of the road" for globalisation.

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