To mark the 25th anniversary of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Anne Eastwood took part to the High-Level Conference organised under the French Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 26 and 27 September. The theme for the conference was “On the road to effective equality – New responses to racism and intolerance needed ?”
The High Commissioner was accompanied by Christelle Revel, who is responsible for international relations at the Office of the High Commissioner for the Protection of Rights.
The conference, held in Paris and attended by numerous ministers and government representatives, international partner organisations at the global and European levels, and national equal opportunities authorities, as well as a number of civil society stakeholders and experts, provided an opportunity to take stock of the ECRI’s activities and the notable progress made in combatting racism and anti-Semitism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance since the organisation’s first plenary meeting in March 1994.
The highly enriching speeches and discussions which took place over the two days nonetheless led to the heavy realisation that these problems persist and are even experiencing a resurgence in a Europe marked by tensions over migration, rising populism and the trivialisation of hate speech. This situation has been exacerbated as a result of the new issues raised by the dominant role that new technology plays in our everyday lives.
Part of the conference was therefore devoted to two major topics of interest on which member states will need to focus particular attention in the decades to come :
- The sustainable inclusion in our society of people exposed to racism and intolerance due to their real or supposed affiliation with a vulnerable group;
Management of opportunities and risks in light of the increasing use of new technology and the development of artificial intelligence, in a bid to combat and prevent all forms of prejudice, discrimination and exclusion.
At the end of the conference, the ECRI issued a road map inviting all member states to introduce a system for quickly and systematically introducing its recommendations, which was also a way of reiterating the crucial role that equal opportunities authorities play in this area.
Established following the Vienna Summit in 1993, the ECRI has, through more than 200 national reports and 16 general policy recommendations over the last 25 years, contributed to introducing significant change in national legislation on protecting people against racism, discrimination and intolerance and in combatting hate speech in Europe.
An independent human rights and anti-discrimination authority in the Principality, the High Commissioner has taken part in the ECRI’s annual seminars since its role was established. It recently had the opportunity to submit observations as part of the interim follow-up process on the ECRI’s priority recommendations relating to Monaco. The conclusions were sent to the Monegasque authorities on 5 December 2018.