European coalition of cities against racism launched in NurembergThe European Coalition of Cities Against Racism was launched today in Nuremberg, at the Fourth European Conference of Cities for Human Rights* which brought together representatives from more than 140 cities.
Thirteen cities - including Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Gap, Lyon and Paris (France), Nuremberg (Germany), Bologna, Pescare and Santa Maria Capua Vetera (Italy), Badelona, Barcelona and Madrid (Spain), Stockholm (Sweden) and London (UK) - have signed a Declaration of Intention. This must be now be approved by the municipal authorities concerned, along with a ten-point Action Plan. Other cities have expressed an interest and are expected to join the Coalition in the near future.
The European Coalition of Cities against Racism is the first step towards an International Coalition of Cities against Racism, which was proposed by UNESCO in March 2004. For UNESCO, cities, with their concentration of ethnic and cultural mixing, are the ideal places to undertake the struggle against racism, xenophobia and resulting discrimination. Hence the Organizationís proposition to create a network of cities interested in sharing experiences and expertise in order to improve their policies to fight racism.
In the first phase, regional coalitions of cities will be created. Under the coordination of a "Lead City", each region will have its own Action Plan. The cities that become signatories will agree to integrate this latter into their municipal strategies and policies and to devote the necessary human, budgetary and material resources to it. After Europe, it is planned to launch three other regional coalitions in 2005, in Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Africa.
The European Action Plan was adopted at the Nuremberg meeting. Made up of ten commitments covering the different elements of competence of local authorities, such as education, housing, employment or cultural and sporting activities, it suggests choices of action that local authorities can add to and develop themselves.
The first of the ten points adopted in Nuremberg concerns measures to ensure greater vigilance against racism. Some examples of action suggested are establishing a mechanism for consultation with the various social actors (young people, artists, NGOs, community leaders, the police, the judiciary, etc.) and putting racism and discrimination on the agenda of the various consultation mechanisms that exist within the city (e.g. youth parliaments, elders' councils). The second point concerns assessing racism and discrimination and monitoring municipal policies. It involves initiating or developing the collection of data, establishing objectives and setting common indicators. The third point is aimed at providing better support for the victims of racism and discrimination. This could range from the creation of the post of an ombudsperson or the introduction of disciplinary measures against racist behaviour or actions by city employees.
The fourth point concerns information and the participation of city dwellers. It seeks to ensure better information for city dwellers on their rights and obligations, and on means of protection and legal options. It is suggested this be done using a participatory approach, notably through consultations with service users and service providers. The next point suggests making the city an active supporter of equal opportunity practice. The sixth point builds on that theme because it entails the city committing itself to be an equal opportunities employer and an equitable service provider. Some examples of action to be taken are identifying and providing support for the learning and development needs of municipal employees, but also promoting intercultural dialogue and establishing a special scholarship and training programme for young people from discriminated groups.
The seventh point calls for the strengthening of policies against discrimination in access to housing, although this should be a voluntary policy. Education is the focus of the eighth point which proposes, for example, the creation of an "Equality School" certificate to reward schools committed to the struggle against racism, or drawing up a charter in order to combat discrimination in the access to education and racism at school. The two final points call, respectively, for the promotion of cultural diversity (through funding projects and meeting places, or naming streets etc.) and putting in place mechanisms for managing conflicts and dealing with racist crimes.
*The European Conference of Cities for Human Rights is a network of cities, created in October 1998 in Barcelona for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From 41 cities at the time the Barcelona Commitment was adopted, the network of cities had risen to 235 (in 21 European countries) by the time the European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City was adopted in 2000.
For more information about the International Coalition of Cities against Racism, see http://www.unesco.org/shs/citiesagainstracism