10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
The independent monitoring carried out by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) helps member States to reduce inequalities based on grounds such as “race”, national or ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion, language, sexual orientation and gender identity. In its Roadmap to Effective Equality, ECRI notes that, over the last 25 years of its existence, Council of Europe member States have established a stronger institutional framework to promote equality and protect individuals and groups against racism and intolerance, especially through the creation of equality bodies. In the years to come, ECRI will monitor state action aimed at achieving effective equality and access to rights for all, in particular vulnerable groups, and will develop its standards on antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination against Muslims and LGBTI issues
The European Social Charter, the human rights treaty on social and economic rights, guarantees the protection of rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged persons/groups such as: children and young persons (Articles 7 and 17), persons with disabilities (Article 15), migrant workers (Article 19), elderly (Article 23), Roma and other minority groups as well as unlawfully present children and adults on the territory of States Parties.
The Charter requires that the enjoyment of the rights set forth in it shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national extraction or social origin, health, association with a national minority, birth or other status (Article E).
The European Committee of Social Rights (ESCR) monitors the implementation of the Charter, not only in law, but also in practice. For example, the Committee monitors income inequalities such as the gender pay gap (Articles 4§3 and 20 of the Charter), income inequalities between adult and young workers (Article 4§1) or between nationals and migrant workers (Article 19).
The ECSR by its decision of 24 January 2018 on the merits of the complaint European Committee for Home-Based Priority Action for the Child and the Family (EUROCEF) v. France (No. 114/2015) concluded to several violations to the right of unaccompanied foreign minors to social, legal and economic protection in France on several grounds (violations of Article 17§1 of the Charter) due to: shortcomings identified in the national shelter, assessment and allocation system of unaccompanied foreign minors; delays in appointing an ad hoc guardian for unaccompanied foreign minors; the detention of unaccompanied foreign minors in waiting areas and in hotels; the use of bone testing to determine the age of unaccompanied foreign minors considered as inappropriate and unreliable; a lack of clarity to access an effective remedy for unaccompanied foreign minors. The decision in EUROCEF v. France also concerned lack of access to education for unaccompanied foreign minors aged between 16 and 18 years (violation of Article 17§2 of the Charter); inappropriate accommodation of minors and their exposure to life on the street; (violation of Article 7§10 of the Charter); lack of access to health of unaccompanied foreign minors (violation of Article 11§1 of the Charter); lack of access to social and medical assistance of unaccompanied foreign minors (violation of Article 13§1 of the Charter); lack of provision of a shelter (violation of Article 31§2 of the Charter).
The ECSR by its decision of 16 October 2018 on the merits of the complaint Equal Rights Trust v. Bulgaria (No. 121/2016) held that there was a violation of Article 16 (the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection) of the Charter concerning the suspension or the termination of the family allowances when the child stops attending school and the termination of the family allowances when the minor becomes a parent; as well as a violation of Article E (non-discrimination) in conjunction with Article 16 of the Charter concerning the discrimination against Roma, and particularly towards Roma female minors.
The promotion of human rights of older persons is ensured through the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)2. The implementation of this instrument is ensured by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) through the compilation of examples of national good practice.
Guidelines of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to member States on the protection and promotion of human rights in culturally diverse societies were adopted on 2 March 2016. A publication gathering the text of the Guidelines, of the compilation of existing standards in the field as well as of the proceedings of the Seminar is available on line.
In the framework of the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children, the Youth Department is implementing a project Youth.Together which seeks to reduce of social exclusion and violence to which young refugees, especially minors in transition to adulthood, are exposed. It supports the social inclusion of young refugees and their access to education, self-development and autonomy through youth work and non-formal education activities. The Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)4 on supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood on 24 April 2019. The recommendation is available in English, French, Dutch, German, Greek and Portuguese.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been regularly addressing issues relating to global and European inequalities over the past year. Its latest texts in this area, which were elaborated in close collaboration with other international and European organisations (e.g. the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and NGOs (e.g. Oxfam) were Resolution 2158 (2017) on Fighting income inequality as a means of fostering social cohesion and economic development and Resolution 2302 (2019) on The Council of Europe Development Bank: contributing to building a more inclusive society.
Different targets under goal 10 were also addressed through Resolution 2153 (2017) on Promoting the inclusion of Roma and Travellers and Resolution 2155 (2017) on The political rights of persons with disabilities: a democratic issue. The activities of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance, an alliance of parliamentarians who commit to taking open, firm and pro-active stands against racism, hatred and intolerance, established in 2015, also contribute to combating discrimination and promoting political inclusion of all.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities adopted the following texts of relevance:
- Resolution 403 (2016): The situation of Roma and Travellers in the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis in Europe;
- Recommendation 388 (2016): The situation of Roma and travellers in the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis in Europe;
- RES366(2014): Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective policy design at local and regional levels;
- REC354(2014): Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective policy design at local and regional levels;
- RES333(2011): The situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities;
- REC315(2011): The situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities;
- Resolution 319(2010): Integration of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods;
- RES(2008)264 Social approach to the fight against racism at local and regional level;
- REC(2008)246: Social approach to the fight against racism at local and regional level.
The work of the Commissioner for Human Rights relating to reducing inequality comprises a wide range of actions focused on promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, race, ethnic origin, religion or economic or other status. The activities of the Commissioner on this theme have been undertaken in different thematic areas such as human rights of LGTBI persons, human rights of persons with disabilities, human rights and migration, human rights of Roma and Travellers, and women’s rights and gender equality. The Commissioner has also carried out some country and thematic work relating to racism and intolerance and on the human rights of older persons.
See in particular:
- Human Rights of LGBTI persons
- Women’s rights and gender equality
- Human rights of Roma and Travellers
- Human rights of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers
- Human Rights of persons with disabilities
Concerning combating racism and intolerance, see in particular the Human Rights Comments:
- ‘Afrophobia: Europe should confront this legacy of colonialism and the slave trade’
- ‘Anti-Muslim prejudice hinders integration’
- Language policies should accommodate diversity, protect minority rights and defuse tensions
Concerning human rights of older persons, see in particular the Human Rights Comments: