MINELRES: Fwd: ECRI List serve: Combating racist political discourse

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Mar 21 08:18:41 2005


Original sender: Combat Racism <Combat.Racism@coe.int>


ECRI'S LIST SERVE

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Paris,
21 March 2005   

Public Presentation on the use of racist, antisemitic and xenophobic
arguments in political discourse 

Briefing paper

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination on 21 March 2005, the European Commission against Racism
and Intolerance (ECRI) is organising a high-level panel meeting on the
use of racist, antisemitic and xenophobic elements in political
discourse, with the participation of the Secretary General of the
Council of Europe, Mr Terry DAVIS, the Chair of ECRI, Mr Michael HEAD
and members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 

Deeply concerned by the increasing use of racist, antisemitic and
xenophobic elements in political discourse, including by mainstream
political parties, ECRI will adopt on 17 March 2005 a Declaration
condemning this alarming trend which has been observed in many Member
States of the Council of Europe. 

This trend, which is well documented in ECRI’s country monitoring work,
was further substantiated by an independent study commissioned by ECRI
in order to investigate this dangerous phenomenon in more depth. This
study, carried out by the political scientist Jean-Yves CAMUS, provides
shocking evidence of numerous cases in which European or national
elections have given rise to the use of racist, antisemitic and
xenophobic rhetoric, or other discourse which have an impact on racism
and xenophobia in public opinion in many Council of Europe Member
States. 

Immigrants and refugees, especially those from Muslim countries, are
primary targets of politicians who exploit feelings of insecurity in an
increasingly complex and multicultural world. Most worryingly, the
theory of a so-called “clash of civilisations” is gaining ground. At the
same time, antisemitism also continues to be encouraged either openly or
in a coded manner by certain political leaders and parties. 

According to ECRI, institutional responses to political parties that
resort to racist or xenophobic discourse should include: 

• effective implementation of the ordinary criminal law provisions
against racist offences and racial discrimination, which are applicable
to all individuals; 

• the adoption and implementation of provisions penalising the
leadership of any group that promotes racism, as well as support for
such groups and participation in their activities; 

• the establishment of an obligation to suppress public financing of
organisations which promote racism, including public financing of
political parties. 

In addition to legal measures, ECRI supports self-regulatory measures
which can be taken by political parties or national parliaments, such as
the Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society,
which sets out guidelines for acting responsibly when dealing with
issues related to ethnic or national origin and religion and encourages
political parties to work towards fair representation of ethnic,
national and religious minorities within and at all levels of their
party system. 

There is no doubt that political leadership can play a crucial role in
combating racism and influencing public opinion in a positive way. It is
therefore of the utmost importance that political parties be involved as
much as possible in the fight against racism and intolerance as led by
ECRI and other national and international actors in this field. This
high-level panel meeting, which will bring together parliamentarians,
representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations,
research centres and academics working on the issue, is therefore an
important opportunity for bringing this issue to the forefront of
national and international debate.