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Business and rights: pursuing the European way

Giacomo Delinavelli giovedì 22 Ottobre 2015

diritti  Before his institutional visit to China, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, had to respond almost repeatedly to the same question: «during your visit, will you talk about the respect for human rights in China?». Following the predictable question, the even more predictable answer came: «a good business relationship with China is the best way to enhance prosperity for all».

What is worth pointing out here: it is not the way the United Kingdom treats the human rights issue with China but the role of human rights to enhance the prosperity. As we have experienced for more than sixty years, peace and prosperity have become realities only through the rule of law and the effective promotion of human freedom and dignity. Furthermore, in each of the European States, the Constitutional Charts enshrine a meaningful list of human rights. Moreover, the European Convention of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union shape the whole European legislation pursuing concrete benefits for their citizens. At this turning point in history, Europe should be aware that its world benchmarks are not only regarding economics. Actually, they concern human rights.

Stories like the one of Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr, a Saudi Arabian, who has the same age as me, who risks his life, after a harsh imprisonment due to death penalty, are very common worldwide. The biggest part of the world sees the right of the freedom of speech as a privilege. Another clear case concerns a strong Italian ally, the president of Egypt Abdel el-Sisi: in his country, he is pursuing a policy of repression against free press sentencing to imprisonment seven more international journalists of Al Jazeera. In the east, Europe also has problems at home: the way in which Mr Orban is dealing with the flow of refugees is simply inconsistent with any European standard.

The effort of promoting human rights, both in Europe and elsewhere in the world has never been so urgent. The external action of the European Union carried out by the High Representative for the Foreign Affair and Security policy, Federica Mogherini is obtaining their first concrete achievements. Therefore, following the Iran nuclear deal, the European Union has to effectively promote enduring peace and stability worldwide, through binding conventions. In order to replicate the European outcome, peace and prosperity require binding human rights charters and independent tribunals for implementation.

As we have experienced, business is not the only way to promote peace and stability. Our duty is to promote this view towards our allies.


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