UAE: Document on Human Fraternity can help fight racism, says Costa Rican leader

Former vice-president Dr Epsy Campbell Barr says the best way to tackle challenges was through cooperation and collaboration


Ashwani Kumar

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Dr Epsy Campbell Barr.
Dr Epsy Campbell Barr.

Published: Sat 24 Dec 2022, 8:50 PM

Last updated: Sat 24 Dec 2022, 10:17 PM

The Document on Human Fraternity can help fight racial discrimination, Dr Epsy Campbell Barr, former vice-president of Costa Rica, has said.

Dr Barr, who was the country’s vice-president from 2018 to 2022, is one of the judging committee members of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2023. Established in February 2019, the award was inspired by the co-signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi.

“I am totally convinced that we should work together with different identities to fight against discrimination. The Document on Human Fraternity can help fight racism. I promote the idea of an umbrella that includes the private sector, government, civil society and leaders, who come together to act against racism,” Dr Barr, Costa Rica’s first black woman vice-president, told Khaleej Times.

Dr Epsy Campbell Barr speaks at Unesco Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination 2022.
Dr Epsy Campbell Barr speaks at Unesco Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination 2022.

She noted that human fraternity helps to make the world a better place, where every person is valued equally. “If we promote the Document on Human Fraternity and a society free of racial discrimination, we can achieve our goals. Human fraternity is a tool to fight against racism and the building of a new coexistence where all people are respected,” said Dr Barr, who is a member of the UN’s Permanent Forum of People of African Descent and the first woman of African descent to be vice-president in Costa Rica and in Latin America.

Dr Barr has been recognised by the Most Influential People of African Descent Organisation (MIPAD) as one of the most important women of African descent in the world. She is also a human rights researcher and activist on issues related to women, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, human development, social inclusion, and the environment.

Talking about the challenges women face, she noted that in Latin America there are almost 100 million black women but only less than 2 per cent are represented in politics.

“One of the main challenges is related to our participation in the economy. If we think about our challenges, we must work towards employment for women, giving them money to develop small businesses, and we need the government and state to have a real plan of care for children and the elderly,” she said and pointed out that for gender equality, the state must provide opportunities and services to care for children, elderly, and those with disabilities.

“Another challenge is our participation in facing the reality of climate change — the challenge affecting many people in the poorest parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. We need the knowledge and experiences of women, because, in our experience, when women participate, we obtain better results, including a better use of resources and finances. We also try to fight for equality and fight against violence against women. Latin America is the region most plagued by inequality in the world and it is impossible to combat this inequality without women.”

Video: Dr Barr is excited about being part of the judging committee.

Dr Barr underlined that the best way to tackle challenges was through cooperation and collaboration.

“I’m most excited about being part of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity judging committee as it is a groundbreaking initiative focused on people and organisations serving our world. I’m also excited to foster new relations among different regions around the world, going beyond Latin America’s traditional relations with the US and Europe. Through these relations, we can learn about one another, various regions, various cultures — and most importantly we can work together. There are a lot of challenges facing our world and the only way to face them is to highlight and support the people working towards peace, fraternity, and respect.”

The award is named in honour of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, to celebrate his legacy of championing peaceful coexistence.

Barr stressed that the award was founded on the idea of helping the other, and recognises the people building a better world characterised by peaceful coexistence.

“The award is promoting a new path to recognise the people and entities making a difference when it comes to reconciliation, compassion, fraternity, and love.”

The six judging committee members of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2023.
The six judging committee members of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2023.

The award ceremony will take place on February 4, 2023, – the International Day for Human Fraternity, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the historic Document on Human Fraternity. As a judging committee member, she will be looking for honourees, who are creating a difference in the world and making life easier for those who are suffering.

“I am looking for those nominees who demonstrate how change is possible in path of peace and human fraternity and how to understand others as brothers and sisters and as equal human beings whose rights deserve to be protected. I’m looking for organisations and leaders with a life-long commitment to serving others.”

The award is organised annually by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity and includes a $1 million prize.

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