In co-operation with the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (November 2010 – May 2011), Thorbjørn Jagland proposed to create a Group of Eminent Persons in order to prepare a report within the context of the Pan-European project ''Living together in 21st century Europe'', on the challenges arising from the resurgence of intolerance and discrimination in Europe.

The group consisted of 9 high-ranking individuals with a specific expertise and a particular interest in the subject. Joschka Fischer was the Chairman. Edward Mortimer was the rapporteur responsible for preparing the draft report.

The other members were: Timothy Garton Ash (United Kingdom), Emma Bonino (Italy), Martin Hirsch (France), Danuta Hubner (Poland), Ayse Kadioglu (Turkey), Sonja Licht (Serbia), Vladimir Lukin (Russia), Javier Solana Madariaga (Spain).

In the first part of its report and referring to the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Group highlights eight specific risks to traditional Council of Europe values:

  • rising intolerance
  • rising support for xenophobic and populist parties ;
  • discrimination ;
  • the presence of a population virtually without rights ;
  • parallel societies ;
  • Islamic extremism ;
  • loss of democratic freedoms ;
  • a possible clash between "religious freedom" and freedom of expression.

In the second part of its report, the Group begins by setting out 17 principles which it believes should guide Europe's response to these threats, starting with the statement that "at a minimum, there needs to be agreement that the law must be obeyed, plus a shared understanding of what the law is and how it can be changed".

  • It then goes on to identify the main actors able to bring about the necessary changes in public attitudes: educators, mass media, employers and trade unions, civil society, churches and religious groups, celebrities and "role models", towns and cities, member states, and European and international institutions.
  • The report then concludes with 59 "proposals for action".

Back Emma Bonino

Emma Bonino is Vice-Chair of the Italian Senate. She has been Minister for International Trade and European Affairs. First elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1976, she has served either in the Italian or in the European Parliament continuously since then, except when she was European Commissioner. Between 1994 and 1999, she was European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Fisheries, Consumer Policy, Consumer Health Protection and Food Safety. As European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Emma Bonino was responsible for managing the European Union's Emergency Aid Program (ECHO).

Since 1993, she has led the campaign for the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. While she was EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Emma Bonino was the Head of the European Commission Delegation to the Rome Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court in 1998, at which the Rome Statute was adopted. She spent 4 years in Cairo between 2001 and 2004, where she was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University of Cairo. Her time in Egypt has focused her expertise in human rights and humanitarian issues in the Middle East and North Africa. As part of her work in the region, in January 2004, she headed the political process that led to the Sana'a Inter-Governmental Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the ICC, organised by the Government of Yemen and the NGO No Peace Without Justice. The Sana'a Conference was a critical part of an ongoing awakening of democratic aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa, recognising that democracy is not just representative institutions, but respect for fundamental principles, particularly the rule of law and human rights.

Since July 2003, Emma Bonino has also been campaigning for ratification of the Maputo Protocol on "Women's Rights in Africa" to the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights as a comprehensive framework for the realisation of women's rights in Africa. This is part of consistent work on sensitive political and cultural issues related to human rights, including Ending FGM, the international campaign for the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation.