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The European Conference against racism All different all equal: from principle to practice was prepared during 1999 and 2000 by a technical working group which met on several occasions. This preparatory body comprised not only representatives of Council of Europe member States and other governments associated with the Organisation’s work, but also expert bodies at European level, namely the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), and non-governmental organisations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also participated fully in these preparatory meetings and institutions of the European Union.
The three-day conference was chaired by Italy, as Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, with Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini presiding at the opening session and Minister of Justice Piero Fassino at the closure.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, gave a keynote address at the opening session, together with the guest speaker Günter Grass, Nobel Prize for Literature. Following the introductory remarks of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe presentations were made by the Organisation’s Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, European Commission and the OSCE Chair-in-Office. The General Rapporteur of the Forum for Non-Governmental Organisations presented the conclusions the Forum’s preceding debate.
Four principal themes were chosen for discussion in working groups at the European Conference. For each theme, a discussion paper was presented, following which comments were made by a co-discussant. The four themes covered were:
Legal protection against racism and related discrimination at sub-national, national, regional and international levels
Chair: Mr Nikos FRANGAKIS, Chair, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
Vice-chair: Mr Youri BOICHENKO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russian Federation)
Rapporteur: Mr Theo van BOVEN, Professor at the University of Maastricht, (Netherlands)
Introductory speaker: Mr Bertil COTTIER, Deputy Director, Swiss Institute of Comparative Law
Co-discussant: Mr Rob CORNELISSEN, Head of Unit, Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs, European Commission
Policies and practices to combat racism and related discrimination at sub-national and national level
Chair: Ms Sukhvinder KAUR STUBBS, European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
Vice-chair: Mr A. Bülent MERIÇ, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Turkey)
Rapporteur: Mr Pierre TRUCHE, Chair, National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (France)
Introductory speaker:Mr Frank ORTON, Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Co-discussant: Mr Rumyan RUSSINOV, Director, Roma Participation Program, Open Society Institute
Education and awareness-raising to combat racism, related discrimination and extremism at sub-national, national, regional and international levels
Chair: Ms Gay McDOUGALL, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Vice-chair: Mr Petter DREFVELIN, Directorate of Immigration (Norway)
Rapporteur: Mr Jenö KALTENBACH, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities (Hungary)
Introductory speaker: Ms Monica MACOVEI, Civil rights lawyer
Co-discussant: Baroness Sarah LUDFORD, Member of the European Parliament
Information, communication and the media
Chair: Ms Beate WINKLER, Director, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)
Vice-chair: Mr José LEITĂO, High Commissioner for Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities (Portugal)
Rapporteur: Ms Alenka PUHAR, Journalist (Slovenia)
Introductory speaker: Mr Konstanty GEBERT, International reporter, Gazeta Wyborcza
Co-discussant: Mr András BÁRSONY, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Discussions in working groups were designed to be forward-looking, practical and action-oriented, with open and free dialogue in which all participants took part on an equal footing. Debate was also intended to provide a forum for persons or groups targeted by occurrences of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and related intolerance. For each theme consideration was given to the background, the challenges and best practices for dealing with the issues raised.
The final day of the conference was held at ministerial level. Following the summing up by the General Rapporteur, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights, Ministers or State Secretaries from 39 Council of Europe member States and other States took the floor. The conference ended with the adoption of the General Conclusions by the conference, while Ministers of Council of Europe member States adopted a Political Declaration committing themselves to a number of legal, policy and education measures.