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Fighting racism in Europe

Last updated on Wednesday, 21/10/2020

Racial and ethnic discrimination are a daily reality for too many people in Europe. This discrimination can take various forms: from denying individuals the basic principles of equality to fuelling ethnic hate.

Every one of us can play an important role in breaking down these attitudes, let’s find out how to act. 

Get informed 

A top priority, when facing this complex phenomenon, is knowing where to find trustworthy and updated information. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which is related to the Council of Europe, plays an important role being a human rights monitoring body focusing on questions related to the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Europe. One of its tasks is to monitor and constantly analyse the situation in each of the EU Member States and eventually help them deal with any problems of racism and intolerance.

Keep in mind that governments, parliaments and courts in each of the 47 Council of Europe member countries always have to respect the European Convention on Human Rights; if you have the feeling that something is going wrong in your country you can turn to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which acts as a safety net. You can find more info here. 

Another source is the European Union Agency for fundamental rights (FRA) which promotes and protects human rights in the EU. Based on its Fundamental Rights Report 2019, this report shows how racism is still very much widespread and present in our daily life. For instance, one in three black people experience racial harassment and four in ten people state that nothing would have changed by reporting the experience. 

Ethnic minorities and migrants continue to face harassment and discrimination across the EU, despite longstanding EU laws against racism. The question is: what can you do as a European citizen to stop discrimination and hate speech?

Get involved

Want to do more than just reading? One option to get involved in the discussion is provided by the European Network Against Racism, a pan-European anti-racism network that combines advocacy for racial equality and facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racism actors in Europe. It is possible, for instance, to join your local anti-racist organisation or to volunteer with them.

You can also participate in the European Action Week Against Racism, taking place in the month of March. Why this month? Because on 21 March 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in South Africa. Since then, the date has been declared by the United Nations as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The initiative brings together people combatting racism and racial discrimination. Your organisation or group can also join in and organise concerts or conferences, send protest letters to policy-makers or find other ways of voicing your opinion. Just contact UNITED for Intercultural Action to get all the material you need.

Check out the “Let’s Fight Racism” portal of the United Nations, you can read real-life stories, spread the word on social media or get involved with online volunteering. 

Don’t forget the No Hate Speech Movement, born in 2013, this youth campaign led by the Council of Europe Youth Department aims at mobilising young people to combat hate speech and promote human rights online. Various national campaigns are still active around the world raising awareness of the risks that hate speech poses to human rights and democracy and on educational activities.