In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in the USA, large and durable protests against racially motivated discrimination, violence and police brutality have flared up across the globe. These protests have raised awareness among minorities and majorities alike of the scale of these phenomena, which are incompatible with the human rights values of the Council of Europe and have created a sense of urgency to act.

The Council of Europe addressed the challenge of systemic racism already in 1993 at its Vienna Summit, by creating a unique mechanism for independent monitoring of its member states – the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). With its normative and country-monitoring work, ECRI has advanced the adoption of legislative and structural measures with a systemic impact throughout Europe, including comprehensive anti-discrimination laws and strong equality bodies.

On 7 July, the Anti-Discrimination Department held a webinar ‘From challenges to solutions: instruments and tools to fight systemic racism’ which was also live streamed on Facebook.

The expert panel explored successful strategies and inspiring actions to address systemic and institutional racism and examined the effectiveness of Council of Europe tools and actions. The speakers emphasised the need to further strengthen their application in member states and welcomed the recent ECRI statement against racial profiling in policing and calling for a systemic response to address racism in all areas.

The panel also underlined the importance of education to combat deeply engrained racism and that training of police is key for them to become part of the solution.

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…effectively countering racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance requires a sustained and comprehensive approach reflected in a broad range of measures which complement and reinforce one another, covering all aspects of life…"

European Commission against Racism and Intolernace, General Policy Recommendation on Combatting Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Intolerance, 1996