Reducing inequality within and among countries

In 2010 the level of extreme poverty in the world had been cut in half compared to 1990. The fact that billions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty is a huge success. Nevertheless 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty and the gaps between the rich and the poor of the world have never been larger.

Goal 10 of the SDG’s acknowledges the fact that inequality is not just a problem between countries but also within them. That’s a fact both in rich and poor countries. All governments have to deal with the exclusion and discrimination against vulnerable groups and make sure that wealth is shared and equal opportunities given to all without discrimination.

Discrimination is a violation of human rights and it hinders generations of people to have the same opportunities that others often take for granted. Equal access to education, inclusion in the political system, in the pension system, access to the labour market and an end to discriminatory laws are vital if we are to succeed in this. Today minorities in some countries even lack the basic right to clean drinking water or access to electricity.

The fight for equal rights and equality is far from over. We can see it in the brave wheelchair protests in Bolivia, we can see it in the fight for a decent pension system in many countries; we can see it in the continued fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide; we can see it in the still ongoing discriminatory treatment of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar; and we see it in practices of several EU member states’ against the Romani peoples of Europe.

Changing attitudes and patterns of discrimination is one part. But it also has to be followed by tougher measures, such as getting binding legal frameworks in place. In the European context with sanction mechanisms against EU states that violate human rights by for example discriminating minorities.

In 1952, when the foundation of the EU was laid through the European Coal and Steel Community, member states agreed to lay sanctions of those who violated the rules on goods and services. But more than 60 years later there still are no sanctions for violations on human rights.

All EU member states have signed and ratified the European convention on human rights. But even today, when blatant violations against human rights are happening in Spain, in Hungary, Poland, but also in Sweden with regards to minority rights, accountability is lacking.

Human rights are just that – human. They apply to all humans, regardless of where you were born, your language, culture, religion, gender or ethnicity. These rights cannot be negotiated.

Part of my work this legislative term is to try to achieve a binding legal framework on human rights within the EU, combined with sanctions against member states that violate them.

/Bodil Valero

Member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Greens (Miljöpartiet de gröna)

 

 

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