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EUROPEAN CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM

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World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance


INTRODUCTION BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

Following the decision of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1997 to convene a World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the then Presidency of the European Union (Luxembourg) proposed that the Council of Europe should be entrusted with the preparation, at European level, of the World Conference, notably in the form of a European Conference on this topic.

The European Conference against racism All different all equal: from principle to practice took place on 11 - 13 October 2000 at the Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg. Over 500 participants attended, including ministers and senior government officials, Council of Europe, European Union and United Nations bodies, non-governmental organisations and other representatives of civil society. The conference adopted General Conclusions which, together with a Political Declaration adopted by ministers of member States of the Council of Europe, were forwarded to the Preparatory Committee of the World Conference as Europe’s contribution. The European Conference was preceded by a Forum for Non-Governmental Organisations, which also resulted in detailed recommendations for action.

The European Conference addressed racism in a human rights context, underlining that discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnic or national origin, religious, linguistic or cultural background constitute serious violations of human rights and must be combated by all lawful means. The Council of Europe has a longstanding commitment in this respect, dating from the time of its establishment in 1949 in the wake of the fight against totalitarianism, racism, xenophobia and antisemitism. The European Conference also emphasised the need for determined action, at national and local level and by government in conjunction with civil society. The Council of Europe is ready to take up this mandate with renewed vigour and, following the outcome of the World Conference, join collective efforts at European level in ensuring the action needed to implement the recommendations of both European and World Conferences.

December 2000