European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)



Internal organisation



The National Authority for Combating Discrimination and Promoting Equality (HALDE) was established by an Act of 30 December 2004 as an independent administrative body.


The National Authority deals with all types of direct or indirect discrimination prohibited by French legislation or international treaties to which France is a party.

It is empowered to examine any direct or indirect illegal difference in treatment on grounds such as origin, gender, family status, physical appearance, name, state of health, disability, genetic characteristics, morals, sexual orientation, age, political opinions, trade union activities, or genuine or alleged membership or non-membership of a given ethnic group, nation, race or religion.

Its aims are to identify discriminatory practices, combat them and propose practical solutions to the problems they pose.

It helps victims to gather evidence of discrimination and choose an appropriate response. It deals with complaints and informs people about their rights. It may investigate on its own initiative any discriminatory practice that comes to its notice and put an end to it.

It takes any action it considers necessary to promote equality, particularly genuine equality of opportunities.

Internal organisation 

The National Authority is directed by Mr Louis Schweitzer and is made up of a Panel of 11 members appointed for five years by presidential decree and an advisory board, made up of 18 qualified specialists appointed by the Panel for three years.

The Panel’s decisions are implemented under the authority of a Director General by administrative departments including a Legal Services Directorate, which is responsible for processing individual complaints and a Directorate for the Promotion of Equality.


Processing complaints

Anyone who feels he or she is a victim of discrimination may contact the National Authority by telephone on 08 1000 5000. During this first contact, the person is informed of the procedure for making an official application to the National Authority. If the person’s situation falls outside the National Authority’s remit, he or she is redirected to the relevant body or institution.

Applications to the National Authority may be made by any individual person, directly or through the intermediary of a member of the French Parliament or Senate, French member of the European Parliament, or an association registered for five years or more on the date of the incident or one of whose statutory aims is to combat discrimination. The National Authority may also conduct an investigation of its own motion if a case of discrimination comes to its attention, provided that the victim does not object.

Firstly, the National Authority provides applicants with all the relevant information on procedures suited to their situation and helps them to assemble their case.

With a view to reaching an out-of-court settlement of the case, the National Authority may propose mediation and, with the consent of the parties, appoint a mediator.

If legal proceedings are brought, the applicant is informed of the possible judicial procedures and remedies and may ask the National Authority to make submissions to the relevant court.

It has the power to conduct inquiries to gather evidence of discrimination. It can organise hearings and on-site checks and order the communication of any information it requires. In the event of refusal, it may, having issued a notice to comply, refer the case to the urgent applications judge.

The National Authority is required to report to the public prosecutor when facts that amount to a crime or a major offence are brought to its attention.

Promoting equality

The National Authority conducts awareness-raising and information activities to change mentalities.

It is entitled to use all available means (hall-marks, advertising) to promote good practices and it may also publicise any shortcomings that come to its attention.

It uses training activities to raise awareness.

It co-ordinates research conducted to find out more about discriminatory practices and propose new policy instruments.

It submits a yearly report on its activities to the President of the Republic, the parliament and the prime minister.

It is entitled to make recommendations and approach the authorities directly. It is consulted by the government on any bill aimed at fighting discrimination and promoting equality. It can also propose an amendment to a law or regulation of its own accord and express views about ways of rectifying or preventing discriminatory practices.


National Authority for Combating Discrimination and Promoting Equality
Haute AutoritÚ de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l’EgalitÚ (H.A.L.D.E.)
11 rue Saint Georges
F-75009 PARIS
Tel: +33-(0)1 55 31 61 00
Fax: +33-(0)1 55 31 61 49