SABC News - Robinson expresses concern about current situation in South Africa  :Tuesday 9 May 2017

Robinson expresses concern about current situation in South Africa  

Tuesday 9 May 2017 21:48

Sherwin Bryce-Pease

Robinson was the first woman President of Ireland and a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and has been a member of The Elders since it’s founding almost ten years ago.(Mo Ibrahim Foundation )

A leading member of The Elders has expressed her concern that the political and economic situation in South Africa was very worrying and causing considerable concern.

Those were the words of former Irish President Mary Robinson while speaking after a meeting between The Elders and United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres.

Former President Nelson Mandela founded the independent group of global leaders in 2007 while Robinson delivered the Mandela lecture in 2012 in which she raised questions about whether the country’s young democracy was living up to expectations.

Robinson was the first woman President of Ireland and a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and has been a member of The Elders since it’s founding almost ten years ago. She was pressed on South Africa progress since her speech there five years ago.

“Since then I’m afraid the situation has undoubtedly worsened and worsened in a very worrying way and I think for all of the friends of SA, this is a considerable concern. Not wanting to go too much into that, the Elders are very conscious of being very rooted in the fact that we were brought together by Nelson Mandela and this is our tenth anniversary year and we’re going to start the year on Mandela’s birthday on the 18th of July in Cape Town and we hope that our first Chair Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be able to be with us.”

The Elders will launch on Nelson Mandela International Day a year long programme that will promote the values of their founder.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to SA, I haven’t been there for a while and having a better opportunity to assess the situation. I know from my friends, I know from my involvement with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and being on the board and prize committee that there is a real concern because SA is so important to Africa and so important to the future of an overall stability in Africa. I think it’s a case of – in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – being prisoners of hope about the future of SA.”

The Elders also endorsed the view that multilateralism was more needed in a world where global tensions were heightened.

Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland says: “We have a time of heightened global tensions, we therefore the advocacy and the consistency about the message of multilateralism is relevant and it needs to be pursued. The alternative ideas of advocating countries first and not countries collaborating is not really the message of the future.”

They touched on a variety of global concerns, among them the failure of the Security Council to positively impact the situation between Palestine and Israel and the continued participation of the United States in the Paris Climate Change Agreement; warning that if the administration of President Donald Trump were to follow through with a withdrawal, that its actions would be unconscionable.

Robinson adds:  “The rest of the world is also going to go ahead with the Paris Agreement, hopefully the United States will not pull out. If it does it is a rogue state in the world, I have to say that. It becomes a rogue state because it is totally failing in its clear responsibility as one of the largest emitters and historic emitters for the problems that are being caused by disruptive climate in very poor countries and communities around the world. It is unconscionable if the US pulls out. If the US stays in but does not support the Green Climate Fund, does not support the IPCC, does not support the commitment, that too is unconscionable.”

The Elders’ mission’s statement says they represent an independent voice, not bound but the interests of any nation, government or institution.

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