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05 / 07 / 2004
Mohamed Nazir: “The right to prosper should be in balance with collective responsibility”

The Dialogue on “Human rights and local and regional administrations” has this afternoon dealt with social and economic rights

The member of the Borough Council, Mohamed Nazir, explained in his inervention that “legislation, whether local, regional or state should always be applied for the majority and not for just a few, given that this could lead to inequality”. In this sense, discrimination always negatively affects people’s economic rights.

In the opinion of Nazir, the right to prosper “should be in balance with the collective responsibility, it should be balanced”. Nazir explained the case of Northern Ireland in which “the absence of social rights in a divided society often means the lack of economic rights”.

Nazir also said that the authorities should act in the interest of their communities and that they are key to achieving economic prosperity. Nazir made reference to the concept of ‘partner’ to define that only if local authorities work in “partnership” will they be able to function properly.

The professor from the School of European Studies at the University of Cardiff, John Loughlin, explained that there is continued tension between diversity and universality. In the opinion of Loughlin “there is a tension between what a person is and the different versions of what this is”.

Loughlin spoke of the model of the welfare state in which there is tension between collective and individual rights. The professor also referred to the tension that exists between the principle of subsidiarity and collective and individual rights. In this sense Loughlin said, “we have to defend globalization, which means the universality of rights but on the other hand, society should protect its own history”.

Antonio Montalvo, the director of the Center for Regional and Social Development Studies explained, “to force people to live in society means that there are collective restrictions”. Montalvo added, “the definition of human rights is about law but its execution is in the hands of public administrations whether this be local or regional politics”. For Montalvo “the development of a welfare society has led to creating tasks for local administrations and has brought an increase in citizen participation”.

The sociology professor at the University of Katowice, Jacek Wodz, explained in this intervention “the difficulties that the contradiction represents for Poland between the new European legislation and what really happens in my country”. Wodz referred to the fact that there is 20% unemployment and in many regions this is over 30%.

Wodz explained that in his country “unfortunately, a model of development has been chosen which in practice results in a handful of people becoming filthy rich fast and the majority, sliding further and further into poverty”. In addition, Wodz spoke of the inequalities in accessing education and medical treatment.

The sociology professor added that the municipal authorities have the obligation to provide social services and that the budget comes from two main sources: central government and the resources of the municipality itself, in this case these depend on the wealth and assets of each regional or local authority. Wodz highlighted several solutions. In the first place, Wodz supports professional public services and welfare service provision; in second place there should be a change in the ombudsman model from state to regional. Lastly, in the view of Wodz, he would favor a change to a more decentralized form of government.