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, gender identity and sex characteristics. In its Roadmap to Effective Equality, ECRI notes that, over the last decades, 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. ECRI continues its monitoring of state action aimed at achieving effective equality and access to rights for all, in particular vulnerable groups. In 2021, it revised two general recommendations on preventing and combating antisemitism on the one hand and anti-Muslim racism and discrimination on the other hand. It now works on a new general recommendation on preventing and combating intolerance and discrimination against LGBTI persons. Since 2020, ECRI has issued exceptional statements aimed at addressing inequality issues across Europe (e.g. impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions and racist police abuse, including racial profiling, and systemic racism in 2020; consequences of the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in 2022).

The North-South Centre launched the #SolidAction campaign: One World, Our World in response to the pandemic to highlight solidarity initiatives led by individuals and civil society groups in different parts of the world and a reflection around international solidarity today, its scope, its values, its main agents and its effectiveness.. In a first step, the campaign disseminated 17 inspiring and exemplary initiatives of solidarity on the ground to open the conversation, followed by five interviews. In its following phases the campaign brought together different stakeholders to take a deeper look into solidarity in a context of globalisation and the conditions required for its development and sustainability, reflecting together about the necessary compromises to ensure a sustainable future for all. Two webinars took place.

 

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 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 European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) 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 ECSR by its decision of 17 June 2020 on the merits of the complaint submitted by European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC) v. Czech Republic (No. 157/2017), held that: (i) there was a violation of Article 17 of the 1961 Charter on the ground that the application of the legal framework of institutional care and operation of children centres as provided for by the Health Care Act does not ensure appropriate protection and care for children under the age of 3; (ii) there was a violation of Article 17 of the 1961 Charter on the ground that adequate measures have not been taken to provide children under the age of 3 with services in family-based and community-based family-type settings and to progressively de-institutionalise the existing system of early childhood care; and (iii) there was a violation of Article 17 of the 1961 Charter on the ground that necessary measures have not been taken to ensure the right to appropriate protection and appropriate care services of Roma children and children with disabilities under the age of 3.

In its Conclusions 2019, the Committee examined the implementation of Article 19 of the European Social Charter with regard to the rights of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance. The Committee found in particular infringements on the right to family reunion (under Article 19§6 of the Charter). Apart from obstacles to family reunion related to excessive residence, language or income requirements, the Committee noted that in many cases the expulsion of a migrant worker could entail the expulsion of his/her family members, without assessing their own personal circumstances. In other cases, the reasons for expulsion went beyond the exemptions allowed under the Charter, in particular in situations where migrant workers do not endanger national security or offend against public interest or morality (Article 19§8 of the Charter).

A requirement of a period of residence as a condition of eligibility for public housing that applies equally to nationals and non-nationals is a breach of Article 19§4 of the Charter. Such a requirement is characterised by the Committee as indirect discrimination because it is a requirement that non-national migrant workers find significantly more difficult to comply with than nationals and that cannot be justified for good public interest reasons.

The findings of non-conformity under Article 19§1 of the Charter revealed predominantly problems with practical and legal measures to tackle racism and xenophobia and prevent hate speech in media and public discourse.

In its Conclusions 2021, the ECSR adopted a Statement of interpretation on Article 23 (The right of elderly persons to social protection) – Ageism, as follows:

The Committee recalls that Article 23 of the Charter requires State Parties to undertake to adopt or encourage, either directly or in co-operation with public or private organisations, appropriate measures designed in particular to enable older persons to remain full members of society for as long as possible. The expression “full members of society” used in Article 23 requires that older persons must suffer no ostracism on account of their age. The right to take part in society’s various fields of activity should be ensured to everyone active or retired, living in an institution or not.

The Committee takes due account of contemporaneous definitions of ageism which refer to the stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination directed towards other or oneself based on age (see for example WHO report on Ageism, 2021, p. XIX) As the World Health Organisation has noted, “… ageism has serious and far-reaching consequences for people’s health, well-being and human rights” (WHO report on Ageism, 2021, p. XVI).

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed and exacerbated a lack of equal treatment of older persons. This has included in the healthcare context, where there have been instances of rationing of scarce resources (e.g., ventilators) based on stereotyped perceptions of quality of life, vulnerability and decline in old age.

Equal treatment calls for an approach based on the equal recognition of the value of older persons’ lives in all the areas addressed by the Charter.

Article 23 of the Charter requires the existence of an adequate legal framework for combating age discrimination in a range of areas beyond employment, namely in access to goods, facilities and services, such as insurance and banking products, allocation of resources and facilities. Discrimination against older persons in terms of social rights enjoyment, is also contrary to Article E.

The overall emphasis in the Charter on using social rights to underpin personal autonomy and respect the dignity of older persons and their right to flourish in the community requires a commitment to identifying and eliminating ageist attitudes and those laws, policies and other measures which reflect or reinforce ageism. The Committee considers that States Parties, in addition to adopting comprehensive legislation prohibiting discrimination on grounds of age, must take a wide range of measures to combat ageism in society. Such measures should include reviewing (and as necessary amending) legislation and policy for discrimination on grounds of age, adopting action plans to ensure the equality of older persons, promoting positive attitudes towards ageing through activities such as society-wide awareness campaigns, and promoting inter-generational solidarity.

 

HELP course on Fight against Racism, Xenophobia, Homophobia and Transphobia. It has the following modules:

  • Introduction
  • Legal framework
  • Racism and Xenophobia
  • Homophobia and Transphobia

HELP course on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has the following modules:

  • Introductory module
  • Non-discrimination and intersectionality
  • Legal capacity and independent living
  • Accessibility and independent living
  • Social rights of persons with disabilities

HELP courses in the area of migration, developed/updated jointly with the Independent Human Rights Bodies Division, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees (SRSG) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are the following ones:

Asylum and the European Convention on Human Rights:

  • Article 3 Prohibition of torture
  • Article 5 The right to liberty and security
  • Article 8 The right to respect for family and private life
  • Article 13 The right to an effective remedy
  • Article 2, Protocol 4 Freedom of movement

Refugee and Migrant Children:

  • Introduction to the legal framework
  • Child-friendly procedures
  • Alternatives to detention
  • Family reunification
  • Social rights and integration
  • Guardianship
  • Age assessment

Alternatives to Immigration Detention:

  • Introductory Module
  • Legal and Practical Basics
  • Legal Framework
  • What Possible Types of Alternatives?
  • How to make Alternatives effective

Other HELP courses featured more specifically under other SDG can be also relevant such as:

  • HELP course on Antidiscrimination (SDG5)
  • HELP course on Labour Rights (SDG8)

 

To contribute to the implementation of this goal, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers established in 2020 the Steering Committee on Anti-discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI). It steers the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental work to promote equality for all and build more inclusive societies that offer adequate protection from discrimination and hate, and where diversity is respected.

Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is a unique instrument which identifies very specific measures to ensure full respect for LGBT persons, promote tolerance towards them and ensure that victims have access to legal remedies. In 2019, the Council of Europe carried out a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Recommendation by member States and published a report. In 2022, a Report on Legal Gender Recognition in Europe was published following a first annual thematic review of the recommendation conducted in 2021. In 2022, a thematic review on hate crime and other hate motivated incidents based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) was conducted, and findings will be presented in a report to be published in 2023. In 2020 and 2021, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit (SOGI Unit)Unit organised regular exchanges between the European Network of Governmental LGBTI Focal Points and the Council of Europe Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI) in order to discuss policy developments to improve the implementation of Recommendation (2010)5, and a CDADI working group on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (GT-ADI-SOGI) was set-up. Through its cooperation activities, the SOGI Uni) addresses issues related to hate crime and hate speech against LGBTI persons, violence based on SOGI grounds and bullying at schools, multiple discrimination, legal recognition of same-sex couples, legal gender recognition of transgender persons, inclusive employment, LGBTI asylum seekers, as well as protection of intersex children, and has helped improving the legal framework, practices and policies of the member States that seek its expertise.

In 2022-2023, the Committee of Experts on the Intercultural Integration of Migrants (ADI-INT) has been entrusted with the task of assessing the feasibility of a new instrument on comprehensive strategies for inclusion, for use at the national level. The aim of this work is to define inclusion in a comprehensive way, by taking stock of the different understandings and approaches being taken, so to identify how best to support impact on, and policy clarity and coherence for, inclusion in diverse societies. The feasibility study is also assessing the opportunity to develop a bench-learning/support instrument that would allow establishing the processes for dialogue, shared learning, knowledge dissemination, and mutual support between Council of Europe member states, and to set up the institutional infrastructures necessary to achieve the goal of comprehensive and intersectional inclusion within member states and across different levels of governance.

In carrying out its mandate, the ADI-INT benefits from the experience of the Intercultural Cities (ICC) Programme in applying the intercultural integration model at the local level. “Intercultural Cities (ICC)” is a capacity building programme that brings together cities around the world to design governance, practices, and policies to promote inclusion in diverse communities. It has been running since 2008 and today counts 160 members on five continents. The programme offers training, expert advice, know-how, tools and methodologies that support cities in reviewing and adapting their policies through an intercultural lens, with a view to managing diversity as an advantage for the whole society. ICC is also a laboratory for innovation which connects cities and leaders globally in a community where initiatives and practices from one city are analysed and shared to inspire the others. The ICC Programme further supports the implementation of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on multilevel policies and governance for intercultural integration at local level. The model is based on four core principles: 1) achieving real equality; 2) valuing diversity; 3) promoting meaningful intercultural interaction; 4) fostering active citizenship and participation.

 

For the years 2022-2025, the CDADI was given a challenging work programme that comprises the preparation of 20 deliverables together with three committees of experts and two working groups. The deliverables include the preparation of feasibility studies and draft Committee of Ministers Recommendations on combating hate speech; active political participation of national minority youth; equality for Roma and Traveller women and girls; the impact of artificial intelligence systems, their potential for promoting equality – including gender equality - and the risks they may cause in relation to non-discrimination; desegregation and inclusion policies and practices in the field of education including Roma and Traveller children; and the equality of rights of intersex persons.

The ADI-ROM undertook a Thematic Visit on how to stimulate governments to employ Roma and Travellers in governmental institutions and public administration in Skopje from 20-22 June 2022. The thematic report highlights how closely interlinked quality inclusive education, including early childhood education, is with employment whether it would be in the private or public sector. A solid education is even more relevant when trying to access a job in the public sector as external and internal competitions are usually a prerequisite. Promoting decent work for Roma, including Roma youth and women, is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty, empower Roma and furthermore give them their dignity.

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.

 

With the adoption and the implementation of the Council of Europe Action Plan on Vulnerable Persons in the context of Migration in Europe (2022-2027), coordinated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, the Council of Europe will contribute further achieving SDG 10 “Reduce inequality within and among countries”, and SDG 16 “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Concrete activities of the Action Plan, when implemented, will provide for more targeted contribution to specific Sustainable Development Goals, such as SDG 3 , SDG 4, SDG 5 and SDG 8.

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 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 EnglishFrenchDutchGermanGreekHungarianItalianPortugueseSpanishRussian and Turkish.

Sport, through its values, promotes equality and inclusion between people across the world. The Saint-Denis Convention stresses the importance of having equal conditions of access for all participants, as a key condition for safe, secure and welcoming sporting events. Equal participation in clean sport for athletes from all countries and in all sports disciplines is ensured by implementing requirements of the Anti-Doping Convention and developing international standards for adoption by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The Anti-Doping Convention (ETS No. 135) refers to sportsmen and sportswomen as the main beneficiaries of the Convention’s system and specifically requires equality when conducting doping controls. Furthermore, the Saint-Denis Convention (CETS No. 218) also promotes diversity and gender equality for all participants, including spectators, at sports events.

Promoting inclusion in sport has been a priority of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) since its foundation. The right to sport for all is inscribed in the revised European Sports Charter, as well as the principle of non-discrimination in the access to sports facilities or to sports activities. “Sport for all: Uniting us for stronger societies” was one of the themes of the 17th Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport (see resolutions adopted at the Conference).

The Council of Europe’s Strategic Action Plan for Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020-2025) is designed to protect human dignity, human rights and individual freedoms with regard to the application of biology and medicine.

The first objective has regard to promoting equitable and timely access to appropriate innovative treatments and technologies in healthcare with action to elaborate a draft instrument on equitable and timely access to innovative treatments and technologies in healthcare system. After the adoption of the SAP and in the light of the public health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDBIO decided to address actions to ensure equitable and timely access to vaccines, treatments, and equipment.

In January 2021, faced with a scarcity of vaccines, the CDBIO elaborated a Statement on COVID-19 and vaccination, including recommendations to member States, to put in place strategies to avoid generating discrimination of persons who are systematically disadvantaged in accessing healthcare. The CDBIO also underlined the importance of strengthening transparency, information, and communication as tools for building trust and ensuring that every person for whom the vaccine is recommended is provided with a fair opportunity to access vaccination.

  1. As second step the CDBIO worked on a recommendation on equitable access to medicinal products and medical equipment in a situation of shortage, to promote equitable access to these products and equipment and to protect the fundamental rights of people in need of them for serious or life-threatening health problems. The Recommendation lays down general human rights and procedural principles to ensure, inter alia, the absence of discrimination, though, for example, prioritisation based on medical criteria and compliance with the principles of accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness. It also recommends ensuring that there is a system in place to prevent and mitigate situations of shortage and to better prepare for such shortages. The Recommendation applies to access to medicinal products and medical equipment certified through an appropriate regulatory process provided for by law, which are needed for patients with serious or life-threatening health conditions. In February 2023, the Committee of ministers adopted the recommendation.

The second strategic objective of the pillar on equity in healthcare has regard to combating health disparities created by social and demographic changes in Council of Europe member State with action to develop a Guide to health literacy which includes regard for persons in vulnerable situations in order to empower them to access health care of appropriate quality on an equitable basis with other groups in society.

  1. The CDBIO approved a guide to health literacy for equitable access to health care. Health literacy makes a fundamentally important contribution to safeguarding the human rights principle of equitable access to healthcare, especially when existing healthcare resources are less accessible to certain populations due to their circumstances. With focus on the health literacy needs of individuals and the corresponding responsibilities of health systems, the guide aims to be an informative online resource, illustrated by good practices and tools.  It contributes to building trust and equitable access to healthcare by suggesting ways in which decision-makers and health providers can implement health literacy at various individual, organisational, and political levels. 

 

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been regularly addressing issues relating to global and European inequalities over the past years. 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 societyResolution 2373 (2021) Discrimination against persons dealing with chronic and long-term illnesses”, Resolution 2393 (2021) and Recommendation 2210 (2021) on “Socio-economic inequalities in Europe: time to restore social trust by strengthening social rights” and Resolution 2410 (2021) and Recommendation 2216 (2021) on the “Best interests of the child and policies to ensure a work-life balance” were adopted by the Assembly in 2021. In its (Resolution 2468 (2022) and Recommendation 2240 (2022) on “Preventing vaccine discrimination”, based on report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, it stressed that all people vaccinated against Covid-19 by a vaccine that has received conditional marketing authorisation from the European Medicines Agency or has been listed by the World Health Organisation under its Emergency Use List, should be treated equally.  

In 2022, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2431 (2022) and Recommendation 2227 (2022) “Deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities” and Resolution 2442 (2022) and Recommendation 2234 (2022) “Eradicating extreme child poverty in Europe: an international obligation and a moral duty”. In 2023, Resolution 2504 (2023) and Recommendation 2255 (2023) on “Health and social protection of undocumented workers or those in an irregular situation” were also adopted.

Reports on “Sustainable European guidelines to counter social dumping and strengthen collective bargaining mechanisms” and “Detention of the “socially maladjusted”” are currently on the work programme of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

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

Equality and diversity in public representation – the participation of young people, women and ethnic and social groups as members of parliament » was one of the three themes of the latest European Conference of Presidents of Parliament, which took place in Dulbin on 28-29 September 2023. The conclusions of the conference are available here.

The approach of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is based on three key principles: achieving SDGs is the shared responsibility of all levels of government; local and regional authorities must have the necessary competences and financial autonomy to achieve the goals in their respective areas; citizens must always remain at the heart of the action.

The Congress promotes equality and inclusion of all groups. It has adopted several texts on social inclusion concerning minorities, youth, refugees, migrants, Roma and Travellers. It also encourages the implementation of equitable policies for the distribution of financial resources between communities, especially in border regions.

The Congress adopted the following texts in relation to SDG 10:

The following thematic activities of the Congress are particularly related to SDG 10:

Congress has issued the following SDG 10 relevant publications:

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. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commissioners published a number of statements where she called for measures to reduce inequalities for a number of the groups mentioned above.

See in particular:

Thematic webpages:

Concerning combating racism and intolerance, see in particular the report on “Combating racism and racial discrimination against people of African descent in Europe” and the Human Rights Comments:

Concerning human rights of older persons, see in particular the Human Rights Comments:

Concerning human rights of women with disabilities, see:

Human Rights Comment “Addressing the invisibility of women and girls with disabilities”