Vox Europa – Winter 2014-15

In our first letter from Strasbourg we would like to share with you why we feel that Europe is so important for us all.

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The EBU has, since 2008, had participatory status in the Council Europe’s (CoE) Conference of INGOs (international Non-governmental organisations).

The last conference saw the visit of a Ukrainian delegation, who urged us with tears in their eyes to help them stop the war and hatred in their country. Ukraine and Russia are part of the larger Europe of the CoE, which has now 47 member states.

A doctor from Greece reported that almost a third of the Greeks couldn’t afford health insurance since the financial crisis. This means a woman giving birth to a child in a hospital and unable to pay for it does not receive her baby or a birth certificate until she has paid.

There is in Europe a great deal of violence against women, children and minorities. We are facing a rise in all kinds of extremism and hate speech.

Europeans (representing about 7 % of humanity) are surrounded, like a half moon, by many wars, ethnic and religious conflicts (Ukraine, Syria, Libya, ISIS terrorists etc). It is only a matter of time before these conflicts come closer. Some are affecting us already.

This shows how important and inalterable are the values written in the Convention of Human Rights elaborated in the Council of Europe. We have in writing great laws, conventions and recommendations, but they are not like a trophy that you put on a shelf and dust off once in a while. It will take our genuine and daily efforts to cultivate more peace, empathy, common sense and personal responsibility, and to bring these to those around us.

Buddhism offers us a wide range of skilful means to help tame our minds and develop wisdom and loving-kindness. We have the teachings of interdependence and karma.

This is why the EBU team is so engaged in the Council of Europe, the oldest pan-European institution, founded in 1949 in Strasbourg to put an end to the barbarity of world war. Since then its member countries have worked together to bring the peoples of Europe together, to bring about better education, genuine understanding, democracy and peace.

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In June 2014 Buddhist Michel Aguilar was elected President of the Human Rights Committee of the CoE’s Conference of INGOs. It is the first time that such a responsible position has been held by a Buddhist representative; a great chance for us all to bring into focus our ethical values as Buddhists; ethics we share with many other religions and schools of thought. The EBU small team responsible for relations with European Institutions has done quite some work to achieve this, but still more challenges lie ahead.

We are thankful for the help received up to this point; your support for the EBU in general will enable us to meet these challenges with more serenity.

If you would like more information please let us know.

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