The last day of the conference was a very powerful day. The local host committee and the conference planners organized a march and rally for human rights. The march started at the conference center and went to the University of Glasgow. There were a number of speakers that discussed the issues of global poverty and human rights violations around the world.
The former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, led the rally. She was an elegant but forceful speaker who reminded the crowd of the need for the international community to focus on the issues of global poverty and to pressure countries to live up to their commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.
Pictured: Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland.
In 2000, 189 world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration and agreed to meet a set of benchmarks called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs.) The overarching goal is to eradicate extreme poverty. It is a call for governments to reexamine their commitment to human development. We are at the half point and now that the focus is off the world leaders, it is essential that the grass roots efforts need to be increased. We need to hold our world leaders accountable to their commitments.
Near the stage there were three people in orange jumpers symbolically behind bars to remind the crowd of continued violation of the Geneva Convention Accords by the United States. Guantanamo Bay continues to be a powerful symbol to the world of the double standard that the US has with human rights.
It was on the eve of the national elections in Zimbabwe. A nonprofit leader from there shared the stories of violence and intimidation that were occurring on a daily basis in her country. Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket for Africa and now it is in spiraling downfall of inflation, food shortages and senseless violence. It is a shame that my alma mater, Michigan State University, still hasn’t revoked the honorary degree that they presented to “President” Mugabe twenty years ago. The sham election and the thousands of people killed and raped should be enough for MSU president Lou Anna Simon to act.
The rally was a fitting end to the conference.