European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

 

EUROCONF (2000) 5

EUROPEAN CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM

“ECRI position papers” for the European Conference against Racism - ALL DIFFERENT ALL EQUAL: FROM PRINCIPLE TO PRACTICE

August 2000

ECRI positions papers – Download the document

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
I. Legal protection against racism and related discrimination at sub-national, national, regional and international levels
II. Policies and practices to combat racism and related discrimination at sub-national and national level
III. Education and awareness-raising to combat racism, related discrimination and extremism at local, national, regional and international levels
IV. Information, communication and the media

INTRODUCTION 

Combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance is one of the raisons d'Ítre of the Council of Europe - the first European Organisation - founded immediately after the Second World War to ensure that the atrocities to which these phenomena had given rise could never happen again.

The first Summit of Heads of State and Government – held in Vienna in October 1993 – noted a resurgence of these phenomena across Europe and decided to make combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance a sector of Council of Europe activities in its own right within the field of human rights protection and promotion.

In the Vienna Declaration, adopted on 10 October 1993, the Council of Europe's member States:

- “condemned in the strongest possible terms racism in all its forms, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance and all forms of religious discrimination;

- encouraged member States to continue efforts already undertaken to eliminate these phenomena, and commit themselves to strengthening national laws and international instruments and taking appropriate measures at national and European level;

- undertook to combat all ideologies, policies and practices constituting an incitement to racial hatred, violence and discrimination, as well as any action or language likely to strengthen fears and tensions between groups from different racial, ethnic, national, religious or social backgrounds;

- launched an urgent appeal to European peoples, groups and citizens, and young people in particular, that they resolutely engage in opposing all forms of intolerance and that they actively participate in the construction of a European society based on common values, characterised by democracy, tolerance and solidarity.”

The Heads of State and Government also agreed to establish the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

Following this decision taken at the highest level, ECRI has been in operation since March 1994. It is composed of independent experts. ECRI combats racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at the level of greater Europe and from the standpoint of protecting human rights.

The second Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Strasbourg in October 1997, confirmed the priority given by the Council of Europe to combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

The fight against these phenomena must be intensified still further in the coming years. This is why the World Conference on the subject in 2001 comes at such an opportune moment and is to be warmly welcomed.

ECRI also welcomes the fact that the European preparations for the World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were set in motion as soon as the General Assembly of the United Nations had taken the decision to convene it.

Under the slogan "all different, all equal: from principle to practice", the European Conference, to be held in Strasbourg from 11-13 October 2000, will prepare Europe's specific contribution to the World Conference.

On this occasion, ECRI, which is the Council of Europe's main body for combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, expresses its views in the following pages on the themes to be dealt with by the Conference's four working groups.

I. Legal protection against racism and related discrimination at sub-national, national, regional and international levels 

A. Context and main problems

1. The law is a powerful weapon for combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. Adequate legal protection offers a remedy to individuals and affirms the relevant authorities' firm opposition to racism in all its forms. Moreover, the fact that parliaments have declared racism and intolerance to be unacceptable in the society has an important educational impact on people.

2. At the international and European levels, a certain number of legal instruments provide ways of opposing racism and discrimination and establish obligations in this regard.

3. Some of these legal instruments, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is the cornerstone of the fight against racism at the global level, are expressly and entirely devoted to protection against racial discrimination.

4. Others, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level and the European Convention on Nationality, offer significant safeguards for combating certain forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

5. At the national level, a number of European countries have enacted constitutional provisions, legislation or regulations aimed at combating racism and intolerance and have established anti-racist legal instruments. ECRI's country-by-country reports contain information on how national rules in this field are applied in the Council of Europe's various member States.

6. Although legal forms of protection against racism at the international, European and national levels have been put in place and progress has been made in recent years, certain problems and gaps nevertheless remain. Without claiming to be exhaustive, ECRI wishes to set out below those that it considers most important.

7. The recognition which the international legal order grants to opposing racism and intolerance is not fully reflected at the national level. There is a discrepancy between, on the one hand, countries' international commitments and the progress made by international organisations in setting standards and, on the other, day-to-day reality on the ground.

8. In the case of existing treaties, one of the gaps concerns the European Convention on Human Rights. This powerful European instrument for protecting human rights is less advanced than others with regard to non-discrimination. Fifty years on, the system established by the Convention has become one of Europe's major achievements in the human rights field. Yet to date, the Convention contains no general prohibition of discrimination. As regards fundamental economic and social rights, the fact that the European Social Charter only covers citizens of States Parties rather than any individual residing within their jurisdiction constitutes a significant lacuna.

9. At the national level, all European States do not have a comprehensive range of legislation to combat racial discrimination. Besides, the main problem concerning existing anti-discrimination provisions is how to ensure that they are effectively implemented. Too often, anti-discrimination legislation, whether it comes under criminal, private or administrative law, fails to achieve the sought-after effect. This is a serious problem firstly, of course as far as potential victims are concerned; and secondly because laws that are not enforced sometimes have the harmful effect of discrediting all measures for combating racism and intolerance.

10. Finally, quite apart from legislation specifically designed to counter racism and discrimination, effective application of which is so important, consideration must also be given to forms of discrimination that are likely to result from national legislation and regulations in a series of areas. In this context, the Plan of Action that accompanied the Vienna Declaration adopted at the first Summit in 1993, by inviting member States "to reinforce guarantees against all forms of discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin or on religion", asked them, inter alia, to "re-examine without delay their legislation and regulations with a view to eliminating provisions likely to generate discrimination based on any of these reasons or likely to sustain prejudice". As far as ECRI is aware, this request has so far received little response in the member States, even though it remains entirely valid, not only as concerns existing provisions but also with regard to the enactment of new, restrictive legislation at both national and European levels, which might have a discriminatory effect.

B. Examples of existing or planned approaches and good practices

11. The signature and ratification of relevant international instruments remains essential, though it is not sufficient. It should be accompanied by all possible efforts to guarantee that their provisions will be fully applied, which may entail the withdrawal of reservations limiting the scope of these instruments that certain State Parties might have entered.

12. The introduction of binding provisions in domestic law to ensure that international standards are fully applied is also necessary, but not sufficient. In order to reduce the discrepancy between international undertakings and the reality on the ground, countries should take measures and report on their effectiveness, that is the extent to which the circumstances of persons vulnerable to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance have improved in practice. The promotion of positive measures to assist such persons, on the basis of good practices that already exist in certain member States, is one example to consider.

13. One way to strengthen protection against discrimination at European level is to fill the gap in the European Convention on Human Rights. Following a proposal from ECRI, the Committee of Ministers instructed, in April 1996, the relevant Council of Europe bodies to consider this question. A draft Protocol no 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights containing a general clause prohibiting discrimination has now been produced and is before the Committee of Ministers. While this advance is to be welcomed, it must be emphasised that the finalisation and adoption of Protocol no 12 before the World Conference, as part of the European preparations, would offer a real demonstration of Europe's commitment to combating discrimination.

14. At national level, based on its knowledge of existing examples in member States and the results of its country-by-country analyses, ECRI reiterates that member States should take the necessary steps to ensure that national criminal, civil and administrative law expressly and specifically counter racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

15. The relevant measures might stipulate: that discrimination in employment and in the supply of goods and services to the public is unlawful; that racist and xenophobic acts are stringently punished (for example by defining common offences with a racist or xenophobic nature as specific offences, and by allowing the racist or xenophobic motives of the offender to be specifically taken into account); that criminal offences of a racist or xenophobic nature can be prosecuted ex officio; that, in accordance with the obligations assumed by States under relevant international instruments and in particular under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, appropriate and efficient measures are taken to combat racist organisations as well as to criminalise oral, written, audio-visual and other forms of expression (including the electronic media), inciting to hatred, discrimination or violence against racial, ethnic, national or religious groups or against their members on the grounds that they belong to such a group.

16. One good practice to follow is not only to ensure that criminal prosecution of offences of a racist or xenophobic nature is given a high priority and is actively and consistently undertaken (there are practical examples of this in some member States), but also that accurate data and statistics are collected and published on the number of racist and xenophobic offences that are reported to the police, the number of cases that are prosecuted, the reasons for not prosecuting and the outcome of cases prosecuted.

17. In response to findings that existing anti-discrimination provisions are not being implemented effectively, certain member States are already taking steps to improve the situation of victims by granting them certain advantages in the field of procedural law. This is also an example of an approach to be considered.

18. ECRI also believes that a further and essential form of good practice in this respect is the establishment of national specialised bodies to combat racism and intolerance, one of whose goals is to assist the victims of discrimination. More detailed ideas on the establishment and functioning of such bodies are set out below, in the section on the themes dealt with by Working Group II of the Conference.

19. A few member States – too few in ECRI's view – have established machinery, often on the initiative of certain sectors of civil society, to ensure that when restrictive legislation is being drafted in different fields, consideration is given to the potentially discriminatory effects of such legislation on members of groups that are vulnerable to racism or xenophobia or to the prejudices that the legislation is likely to generate. The development and general use of such machinery and a readiness to take any conclusions reached into account constitute a good practice to be considered.

20. Finally, if member States' legal commitment to combating racism and intolerance is to be fully effective, sustained measures must be taken to ensure that everyone is aware of the remedies available and how to make use of them. These measures should be matched by efforts to inform the broader public about legislation to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, so that its effects in terms of access to the courts and compensation are supplemented by an educational impact on the general public.

C. Current added value of ECRI's work and ideas for future consideration

ECRI contributes in an on-going manner to:

- promoting (in collaboration with non-governmental organisations and national specialised bodies) the goals of the various international and European instruments designed to combat racism and intolerance

- encouraging the rapid finalisation and adoption of draft Protocol no 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights

- collecting and up-dating information on relevant legislation in force in the member States by gathering all the legal data concerning the fight against racism and intolerance and making this information available to the public (in conjunction with the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law)

- providing (in its country-by-country reports) a detailed analysis of the situation regarding racism and intolerance in each of the Council of Europe's member States, including as concerns existing national laws and standards

- highlighting (in its country-by-country reports) gaps and problems of particular concern and suggesting ways of dealing with them

- discussing with governmental and non-governmental authorities ways in which suggestions in the country-by-country reports can be followed up.

In future - subject to the granting of adequate resources - ECRI might also contribute to:

- supplying, if necessary and if required by the member State concerned, any appropriate assistance and expertise for implementing the measures suggested in the country-by-country reports

- developing, with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), flexible machinery for co-operation at the European regional level on certain specific topics

- studying the potentially discriminatory effects of restrictive legislation at national and European levels and issuing appropriate advice

- studying and evaluating existing and future anti-discrimination legislation.

II. Policies and practices to combat racism and related discrimination at sub-national and national level 

A. Context and main problems

1. The development of comprehensive policies to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance and medium and long-term preventive strategies based on non-legislative social and educational measures, are crucial for curbing the various forms of intolerance.

2. Member States are well aware of this and most of them have introduced policies in certain specific areas where discrimination linked to racism and intolerance is particularly acute, in particular the employment and housing sectors, or access to social and public health services. Certain countries have supplemented them with urban development and town planning policies which pay special attention to the socio-cultural aspects of urban management and take account of different cultures and religions in urban development schemes.

3. Member States have also introduced or are developing policies in the fields of security, justice and dealing with conflicts. Racism and discrimination in the different branches of the criminal justice system, in particular among judges, the police, prosecutors and other law-enforcement officials, was for long a taboo subject but is now less and less so. In a small number of member States, which are setting a welcome new trend, racism at all levels in the functioning of public institutions (“institutionalised racism”) is now the subject of open public debate.

4. ECRI, which often made the point that the first step towards resolving a problem is to recognise that it exists in the first place, acknowledges the importance of these developments. For its part, without claiming to be exhaustive, it wishes to draw attention to certain issues which it considers raise particularly important problems.

5. Continuing discrimination at various levels against members of minority groups constitutes serious grounds for concern. In the majority of cases, such discrimination is the result of everyday practices on the part of both public instances and of individuals. It is particularly prevalent in the fields of employment and housing but is also to be found in other areas such as, for example, the provision of services, access to public services, acquisition of citizenship, etc.

6. The continued existence of racism and prejudice in the criminal justice system, and among the police and the prosecuting authorities, is far from being matched by consistent and vigorous policies to counter these problems.

7. Racial violence and harassment continue to be problems and in some cases have become more pronounced. They are accompanied by certain forms of incitement to intolerance or racial or ethnic hatred. The dissemination of racist and antisemitic material has far from diminished in recent years.

8. It is difficult to plan and effectively implement policies in the various fields mentioned above without adequate data; however, information which would allow the situation and experiences of groups particularly vulnerable to racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance to be assessed and evaluated is scarce.

9. Difficult living conditions and unequal opportunities contribute significantly to tension and resentment. Social exclusion, which is a growing feature of contemporary society, encourages and nourishes racism. It creates a form of hostility, with its attendant fears, which seeks out and focuses on particular scapegoats. Extremist political parties, which have always known how to feed on despair, put forward simplistic authoritarian solutions which accentuate differences and trigger a wave of intolerance. Racism and intolerance derive not just from frustration, destitution and discontent but also from deeply entrenched attitudes and ideologies.

10. Europe's history gives it a duty to remember its past, to remain vigilant and to resist the rise of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. Potential victims and groups that are particularly vulnerable or exposed to the many forms these phenomena take should be identified.

11. The members of these groups, whether they be immigrants or of immigrant origin, resident foreign workers or undocumented persons, refugees or asylum seekers, Roma/Gypsies, Jews, Muslims, or members of a racial, ethnic or national minority within their country, are at risk of becoming, in one way or another, on one point or another, scapegoats to assuage the generalised sense of hostility in society. Some of them are not only exposed to such feelings, but are sometimes also the victims as hostility is translated into action. Others suffer several disadvantages that are mutually reinforcing. Women often bear the burden of double or multiple discrimination, through their membership of minority groups and as women per se.

B. Examples of existing or planned approaches and good practices

12. Recognising the necessity of according the highest priority to measures aiming at the full implementation of legislation and policies intended to combat racism and intolerance and bearing in mind that the effectiveness of such a strategy depends on raising the awareness of, informing and educating the public, as well as on protecting and promoting the rights of individuals belonging to minority groups, one example of good practice to be considered is the establishment of specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level. Such bodies have already been set up and are operational in several member States. Their form may vary according to individual countries' circumstances and they may be part of bodies with broader human rights objectives.

13. Although such bodies may take different forms and fulfil various functions, according to national circumstances they should: have terms of reference clearly set out by statute ; be allocated sufficient resources to carry out their functions and responsibilities effectively ; operate without state interference and with all the safeguards necessary for their independence ; and be readily accessible to those whose rights they are intended to protect. National bodies may have a whole range of functions and responsibilities, such as offering opinions and advice to government bodies, contributing to training programmes for certain target groups, making the general public more aware of discrimination issues and aiding and assisting victims, including through the provision of legal assistance to enable them to enforce their rights in the courts and other institutions. In some cases, the bodies concerned may hear complaints and applications relating to individual cases and seek a settlement, either by mutual agreement or, within the limits prescribed in law, by legally binding decisions.

14. In the employment field, two mutually reinforcing types of approach could be applied. The first concerns all those approaches designed to forestall discrimination as such, for example measures to ensure that recruitment and promotion are based, and seen to be based, on equality of opportunity. The second type of approach is designed to achieve work places that are representative of the pluralism and diversity of the societies in which they operate. A whole series of good practices may be cited as examples, from employers' adoption of "codes of good conduct" for countering discrimination to organising training courses aimed particularly at human resources staff and strengthening real equality of opportunity by introducing special training measures to facilitate the access of members of minority groups to the labour market. One interesting initiative would be to publicise studies on the cost of intolerance. There is probably no better way of motivating employers than by clearly demonstrating the cost of intolerance and discrimination and the loss of earnings arising from the absence of pluralism and diversity within their businesses.

15. In the field of housing, apart from research into discriminatory practices and barriers or exclusionary mechanisms in public and private sector housing, solutions are often based on the promotion of a balanced and successful cohabitation of different social groups at the planning stage of urban development schemes. In parallel, rehabilitation activities in areas of public housing with large concentrations of minority groups remain particularly necessary.

16. There is also a great need for training courses to promote cultural sensitivity, awareness of prejudice and knowledge of legal aspects of discrimination, aimed at the police, those working in the criminal justice system and prison staff. Such training has already been introduced in several member States. It should be maintained and become more widespread. Encouragement should be given to developing formal and informal dialogue between the police and minority groups. One example of good practice in this field is the creation of a mechanism to carry out independent inquiries into incidents and areas of conflict between the police and minority groups. Other examples to follow or develop are initiatives to encourage the recruitment of minority groups into the police and their auxiliary staff – as is already the case in certain member States.

17. It needs to be recognised that the problem of racist or racially motivated violence calls for thorough examination and specific policies. Clearly explaining to the entire population that direct or indirect participation in acts of racial violence incurs serious penalties, encouraging victims of and witnesses to such offences to report them to the relevant authorities and developing an appropriate information policy to ensure that potential victims of acts of racist violence are aware of the remedies, legal and other, available to them are all examples of policies that might be adopted in this area.

18. Statistical data on racist and discriminatory acts and concerning the situation of minority groups is vital in order for problems to be identified and policies formulated. Such statistical data should be completed with data concerning attitudes, opinions and perceptions. In this respect, it should be stressed that, in addition to surveys carried out among the general public, targeted surveys to ascertain the experience and perception of discrimination and racism from the point of view of potential victims may prove a novel and reliable source of information. Surveys of this kind have already been carried out in some member States and may serve as an inspiration for similar initiatives.

19. The use of racist or xenophobic themes in political life poses a serious threat in Europe and any good practice designed to make politicians as a whole more aware of their responsibilities in this respect is to be welcomed. The resurgence of the extreme right in Europe has intensified the spread of antisemitic ideas and increased hostility towards foreigners. This goes a long way to explaining why we are failing increasingly to meet the criteria of a society based on justice and solidarity.

20. One particularly vulnerable group is that of Roma/Gypsies, who throughout Europe suffer the effects of persistent prejudice and are the target of deeply entrenched racism, resulting in regular violations of their fundamental rights. This situation, which is unworthy of a Europe that claims to be a community of shared values, including that of the equal dignity of all human beings, calls for the application of a series of practical measures. These include appropriate steps to ensure that justice is fully and promptly done in cases concerning violations of the fundamental rights of Roma/Gypsies, the establishment of national, regional and local consultative machinery based on the notion of an equal partnership and measures to vigorously to combat all forms of school segregation of Roma/Gypsy children and to ensure that equal access to education is properly applied.

21. One of the distinctive features of present-day Europe is the increasing diversity of beliefs in pluralist societies that are constantly evolving. It should be borne in mind that the principle of a multi-religious and multicultural society is synonymous with the desire of religions to coexist in the society of which they form part. There are certain signs of a rise in religious intolerance towards Islam and Muslim communities in countries where this religion is not observed by the majority of the population. The image of Islam has sometimes been distorted through the use of hostile stereotypes which present this religion as a threat. As a result, when Muslim communities settle and live as minorities in European countries, various steps should be taken to prevent intolerance and discrimination towards them and to monitor and assess the effects of the relevant measures.

C. Current added value of ECRI's work and ideas for future consideration

ECRI contributes in an on-going manner to:

- providing (in its country-by-country reports) a detailed analysis of the situation regarding racism and intolerance in each of the member States, including the relevant policies that are applied

- highlighting (in its country-by-country reports) gaps and problems of particular concern and suggesting ways of dealing with them

- discussing with governmental and non-governmental authorities ways in which suggestions in the country-by-country reports can be followed up

- drawing up guidelines on policies and practices to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance (ECRI's general policy recommendations)

- organising operational activities for the implementation of its general recommendations

- collecting examples of good practice in the member States and circulating them to the relevant circles.

In future - subject to the granting of adequate resources - ECRI might also contribute to:

- supplying, if necessary and if required by the member State concerned, any appropriate assistance and expertise for implementing the measures suggested in the country-by-country reports

- helping to pass on information to those involved in combating racism and intolerance, by acting as a clearing house

- organising, to coincide with the publication of its collections of examples of good practices, meetings with representatives of public bodies, NGOs and civil society to exchange ideas and experiences, including experience of positive action.

III. Education and awareness-raising to combat racism, related discrimination and extremism at local, national, regional and international levels 

A. Context and main problems

1. The critical role of education and awareness-raising in combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance is universally acknowledged. Legislation and policies against racism and intolerance will not be fully effective unless they are completed by activities which seek to bring about new behaviour and attitudes and increase mutual understanding.

2. At European level, the development of education in the field of human rights and respect for cultural diversity has always occupied an important place in the Council of Europe's activities. Among its major contributions are the drawing up of proposals for human rights education in schools, its support for intercultural education and the development of education for democratic citizenship. Moreover, the European Youth Campaign "all different, all equal", which mobilised the public in 1995-96 and highlighted the positive aspects of a multicultural society, played a significant part in making European society, and particularly its young persons, more aware of the importance of opposing racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. These European activities are matched by efforts at national level to make more use of formal, non-formal and informal education and general awareness-raising to counter racism and intolerance. Nevertheless, significant gaps remain and certain problems need to be highlighted.

3. The first point is that while everyone agrees on the importance of human rights education, this importance is far from being reflected in reality, in terms of priorities and resources.

4. In many member States, human rights education remains an optional subject in schools, one that depends on teachers' personal good will. Appropriate and attractive educational material is not generally produced on a regular basis. Besides, when human rights awareness is part of the formal curriculum, it does not always incorporate an anti-racism element.

5. In itself, human rights and anti-racism education is not enough; it must be accompanied by efforts to ensure that all the subjects taught at school are free of prejudices and exclude all nationalism. Such efforts are neither universal nor on a large scale.

6. Established adult education programmes rarely include training in cultural diversity and the implications of a multicultural society, even when the target groups are ones for whom such training is a real professional necessity.

7. The fact that most European societies are multicultural is not fully reflected in the way in which they are organised on a day-to-day level. Needs arising from religious, linguistic and other forms of diversity are rarely taken into account. There is often a lack of knowledge, and even interest, in minority cultures.

8. Another serious problem is that of forgetting the distant or recent historic past. Europe's duty of remembrance requires it to draw the lessons of its past heritage, including such dramatic pages as slavery, colonialism and the Holocaust. As well as the problem of memory lapse, there are currently serious breaches of the duty of remembrance in the form of development of revisionist or negationist trends. Education has a critical role in countering these trends.

9. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a key part in opposing racism and intolerance. However, their activities do not by any means receive universal support. Nor does consultative machinery through which NGOs can express their advice and opinions exist in every member State. The fight against racism and intolerance requires the mobilisation of all the active forces of civil society and further efforts are needed if governments and NGOs are to co-operate more closely in this cause.

B. Examples of existing or planned approaches and good practices

10. There has to be explicit recognition of the key role played by education in combating racism and intolerance. The first stage is to include human rights education in school curricula. However, this teaching must be supplemented by active encouragement for school-based activities explicitly designed to counter racism and intolerance. They should help children to understand and identify racism and combat it, by enabling them to view it as a problem of direct relevance to everyone, and see that it is destructive to both the perpetrator and the victim and that it can and must be fought. This means developing an ability to identify prejudices and stereotypes and to build up alternative patterns of classification and reasoning. Efforts should be made to encourage the development of the forms of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will prepare pupils to play an active part in opposing racism and intolerance.

11. School text books and syllabuses should be revised to reflect diversity and encourage tolerance and mutual respect across all subject areas, including science and technology as well as the arts and humanities. Particular importance should be attached to ridding text books of content that could convey hate and cause racist, ethnic or antisemitic animosity. History teaching is a particularly important area. The Council of Europe has done much work on this subject: a project on history teaching has identified innovative approaches to the way the subject is taught and offered practical advice to teachers and those responsible for drawing up syllabuses. The results of this work and the history teaching material produced in the Council of Europe deserve to be better known and more widely circulated in member States.

12. One essential good practice is to organise special training programmes to encourage awareness of issues linked to racism and related discrimination among the key professionals most frequently in contact with minority groups. Such courses should promote cultural sensitivity, awareness of prejudices and knowledge of the legal aspects of discrimination.

13. Specialised bodies to combat racism and intolerance at national level (which are referred to in the section relating to themes considered by Working Group II of the Conference) can make a particular contribution to educating and informing the public and increasing awareness. They need to be given adequate human and financial resources to enable them to extend their activities to all elements of society, for example by organising information, education and awareness raising campaigns, holding conferences and seminars and collaborating with NGOs.

14. Confidence-building measures should be developed, aimed at improving community relations. Various Council of Europe-supported experiences could provide examples of good practice. The strengthening and general application of such measures would make a positive contribution to establishing a climate of mutual confidence in more tolerant societies.

15. Specific educational measures should be introduced to oppose revisionism and negationism of Holocaust. It is necessary to counter these phenomena, not only to refute lies and the falsification of history but also to provide the younger generation with the tools they need to oppose racism and discrimination.

16. The use of the Internet to create education and awareness-raising networks against racism and intolerance is an example of good practice which should be supported and further developed. The Internet can be a powerful tool against racism and intolerance in facilitating communication and exchanges across borders and disseminating information on anti-discrimination legislation and on human rights.

17. Support for organisations that oppose racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance and ones that defend human rights in general should be greatly increased. NGOs' commitment to combating racism in all its forms calls not only for respect for their matchless contribution but also for their conclusions and criticisms to be taken seriously, to ensure that legal and political measures to counter racism are fully effective.

C. Current added value of ECRI's work and ideas for future consideration

ECRI contributes in an on-going manner to:

- organising information and awareness-raising activities connected with opposition to racism and intolerance

- organising, in co-operation with national partners, information sessions in member States to coincide with the publication of its country-by-country reports

- disseminating its anti-racist message through its web site "combating racism and intolerance" (www.ecri.coe.int)

- organising meetings on particular topics or for consultation with NGOs active in opposing racism and intolerance and supporting events organised by NGOs

- disseminating the results of its activities as widely as possible to the relevant circles and the general public.

In future - subject to the granting of adequate resources - ECRI might also contribute to:

- the setting up of training programmes for specific professional groups on issues linked to combating racism and intolerance

- producing on a regular basis educational material designed to counter racism and intolerance

- co-operating closely in this context with the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, particularly in the production of anti-racist educational material which could be translated into different languages and disseminated throughout Europe.

IV. Information, communication and the media 

A. Context and main problems

1. The media can make a positive contribution to combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance by encouraging a culture of understanding between the different groups in society. Moreover, when international organisations, governments and non-governmental bodies launch initiatives to promote a culture of tolerance, media professionals are particularly well placed to support these initiatives and ensure their acceptance in the different branches of the media.

2. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness in the media that they are supplying information and communicating in multicultural societies. Many of those working in media undertakings are participating in the associated debate and in developing measures to encourage understanding and tolerance in society. In certain member States, codes of professional conduct that touch on the problem of discrimination and intolerance have been drawn up in various branches of the media.

3. New technology offers powerful tools for opposing racism and intolerance. It encourages cross-border communication and contributes to better understanding and universal rapprochement between the world's different societies. It offers new power to those who are exposed to racism and racial discrimination by giving them access to information. Thanks to new communication technology, the exchange of ideas is growing rapidly and new networks are forming.

4. At the same time, and despite all the positive developments, there are still certain negative features: certain media outlets, both press and broadcasting, continue to diffuse hate material. This is a serious problem, since the various forms of incitement to racial hatred, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance can have a much greater and more damaging effect when they are conveyed by the media.

5. One alarming phenomenon is the growing use of new technology by individuals and groups with racist agendas. The use of Internet for disseminating racist messages is a serious problem, to which a growing number of parties are drawing attention.

B. Examples of existing or planned approaches and good practices

6. The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers has issued two important Recommendations to member States on this subject: Recommendation R (97) 20 on hate speech and Recommendation R (97) 21 on the media and the promotion of a culture of tolerance.

7. The first provides governments with a series of principles to apply to hate speech, in particular through the media. The latter includes an appendix containing examples of professional practices conducive to the promotion of a culture of tolerance. These relate to training (initial and continuing), media enterprises, representative bodies of media professionals, codes of conduct, broadcasting and advertising.

8. It would be useful to know what response there has been to these two Recommendations at national level, to assess whether the measures proposed have been taken and, if so, how this has been done and with what impact.

9. Of the examples of good professional practices, particular emphasis should be placed on journalists' training, from the standpoint of both professional techniques and the ethical principles of journalism. Such training should be provided not just in schools of journalism but also within media enterprises.

10. There are a number of examples of good practices in media education in a few member States. These are intended to produce an educated and critical public whose demand for quality and responsibility can help to improve the way the media operate.

11. Additional measures should be introduced as part of a concerted effort, using various methods, to secure access to the media for different minority groups.

12. Turning to the dissemination of racist messages on the Internet, attention should be focused on ECRI's general conclusions based on its research on existing national legislation aimed at establishing the criminal responsibility of parties on the Internet as regards racist crimes and on pertinent case-law. The research, and the general conclusions adopted by ECRI in June 2000, will be the subject of a separate communication to the European Conference against Racism.

C. Current added value of ECRI's work and ideas for future consideration

ECRI contributes in an on-going manner to:

- collecting examples of good practice in member States in combating racism and intolerance in the media, publishing these examples in the form of a collection, and disseminating them as widely as possible to relevant circles

- taking part in anti-racist activities through its web site "combating racism and intolerance" (www.ecri.coe.int)

- making contribution to the debate on the problem of the dissemination of racist messages on the Internet through its research on this topic and the general conclusions submitted to the European Conference against Racism.

In future - subject to the granting of adequate resources - ECRI might also contribute to:

- supplying educational material to schools of journalism on issues relating to combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance and co-operating closely in this context with the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, particularly in disseminating such material throughout Europe;

- making sure that its general conclusions on the problem of dissemination of racist messages via the Internet are followed up;

- making full use of the positive role which the Internet can play as a means of combating racism and intolerance.