Terry Davis, CoE Sec.Gen., on Int’l Day for Elimination of Racial

Statement by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe on
the occasion of the International Day for Elimination of Racial

Europe should fight hidden racism and discrimination

Strasbourg, 20.03.2006 – Sometimes, racist people commit acts which are
as stupid as they are outrageous. Burning down a Roma settlement or
vandalising a Jewish or Muslim graveyard, for example, is offensive and
causes great distress, but it is visible, blatantly illegal and
relatively easy to deal with. Or, at least, more difficult to ignore.

However this form of racism and discrimination is only the tip of the
iceberg. Beneath the surface of apparent equality, people belonging to
ethnic, religious, sexual or any other minorities, continue to be
confronted with various forms of intolerance and discrimination.

The vicious circle of popular bigotry and populist politicians finds
easy victims in any group of people who fall outside the prejudiced
perception of “normality”. The worst, of course, is institutional
racism and discrimination, operated by bureaucrats and sanctioned with
an official stamp from the public authorities.

This phenomenon is far more widespread than we think, and it affects
virtually every aspect of life, from housing to education, from health
to employment.

To help our member states to deal with these problems in an effective
manner, the Council of Europe adopted Protocol No 12 to the European
Convention on Human Rights (CETS No. 177
< ueVoulezVous.asp?NT=3D177&CM=3D1&
CL=3DENG > ) in 2000. The Protocol introduced the broadest possible
prohibition of discrimination, guaranteeing that no one shall be
discriminated against by any public authority on any ground. By
signing, the member states agree to transform their good intentions into
legally binding obligations.

It took five years to get the ten ratifications required for the
Protocol to enter into force. Even today, almost six years after it has
been opened for signature, only 11 countries have ratified it. Today,
on the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I
congratulate all of them: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Georgia, Netherlands, San Marino, Serbia and
Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. At the same
time I express the hope that our other 35 member countries will follow
their example.

Eleven countries 1 have not yet signed the Protocol, and 24 countries 2
have only signed it and have not yet completed the process of

1 Andorra, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Poland,
Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom
2 Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany,
Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein,
Luxembourg, Moldova, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine

Press Release
Council of Europe Press Division
Ref: 153a06
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11
[email protected]

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A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe works to
promote democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops
common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 46
member states.


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