Mary Robinson for EU Council President?
Ireland’s greatest President (though the competition can hardly be said to be intense) from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) Mary Robinson is reportedly among a number of high-profile names being tipped to become the first president of the European Council. Reports this morning say European Commission vice-president Margot Wallstrom has revealed that Mary Robinson is one of the names being mentioned for the job. Her actual quotes are ambiguous and innocuous in equal measure, and given hat she as in Ireland at the time bear all the hallmarks of throwing a bone to a home audience: “We have started to hear some names and finally I have heard the name of Mary Robinson being mentioned. I am very glad about this. It would be very, very good, she is a true European. This is about leadership and she has that leadership quality. She is highly respected everywhere.” If being European and showing leadership qualities are among the qualifications for the job, Roy Keane and Brian O’Driscoll might be well advised to throw their hats into the ring. On a more serious note, it is nice to hear people of this global-ethical calibre being bandied about for the job, and it suggests that the more likely candidacy of former German Foreign Minister Joschka Ficher, whom many in the human rights community would be glad to see get the post, may prosper. Robinson or Fischer would certainly mark an improvement on suggested candidates like the incompetent Bertie Aherne or the venal Tony Blair. Blair’s status as favourite (You can check Paddy Power’s odds here – they are frightening good at predicting this stuff) is dismaying considering his role in the Iraq war, though his pro-European bona fides and hi nominal (as opposed to actual) position on the social-democratic left may make him convenient compromise candidate for many states. The other likely candidates constitute a veritable rogues’ gallery – Chirac, Schroder, Kwasniewski and the underwhelming Barroso. It would be nice to see Robinson get the post, distant though th dream by me. Her qualities have long been recognised even outside of her two most famous posts – in 2004 she received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights and in 2009 she was chosen by President Barack Obama to be one of this year’s recipients for the US Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honour. Mary Robinson is currently chair of the GAVI Alliance .