European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Press Release – 15.03.2004

ECRI: Fighting racism at a time of terrorism and migration

Strasbourg, 15.03.2004 – The ever-changing nature of racism and the challenges that it poses to European societies will be discussed at the 10th anniversary conference of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) at the Council of Europe on Thursday 18 March.

ECRI, the independent anti-racism watchdog of the Council of Europe, was set up and started its work combating racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in 1994. Now, a decade later, the conference will also review and assess ECRI’s action and evaluate the impact of its work.

Other issues to be discussed at the conference include: (1) “Combating racism while fighting terrorism”; (2) “Combating racism in the context of migration in Europe”; and (3) “Racism: a ‘mutating bacillus’ – Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and ‘cultural’ racism as new challenges in our societies”.

Rita Verdonk, Minister for Immigration and Integration of the Netherlands, Walter Schwimmer, the Organisation’s Secretary General, Peter Schieder, President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, and Alvaro Gil-Robles, its Commissioner for Human Rights, will address the opening session of the conference.

Other speakers will include Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor at the University of Leeds, Dimitrina Petrova, Director of the European Roma Rights Centre and Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation. Catherine LalumiŤre, Vice-President of the European Parliament, will also present her views on the challenges which ECRI will have to face in the future.

The conference, which will begin at 9.30 am on Thursday 18 March in Room 1 of the Palais de l’Europe, will be open to the press.