UNITED for Intercultural Action

European Network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees

We believe that racism can only be combated by unity. Since 1993, more than 560 organisations from 46 European countries have joined to make Europe a better place – for all. We have to stand together, be united to support the anti-racist and anti-discrimination vision and to speak out against racism and the negative political tendencies in Europe! With an authentic and living movement we can put antiracism into the mainstream of contemporary culture. Young people can and should be a part of the solution to the problem of racism. The movement can grow with their opinions and their visions of the Europe they want to live in.

We stand for unity and hope, fascists spread division and fear. Our vision is one of peaceful co-existence and intercultural respect all over the world. Together we want to build a Europe of tolerance and solidarity, a Europe of respect and perspectives. Diversity is for us more than just living our lives next to each other. Intercultural understanding and cooperation is our goal.

The best way to stop racism is to get to know each other and to learn from common experience. Every organisation is an expert in its field and in its region, all sharing the same goals. Strengthening these existing intercultural relations between civil societies, minority groups and political and economical actors is UNITED’s most important target. Diversity is a virtue, solidarity a duty.

It’s the variety and creativity that makes UNITED campaigns unique. By linking local and national actions, we can generate European-wide solidarity and publicity. We can show that there is an enormous amount of people that believe in an intercultural open society.

European-wide campaigns against racism (21 March), in support of refugees (20 June) and against fascism and antisemitism (9 November) have been overwhelmingly successfully coordinated by UNITED for more than a decade.

UNITED also does effective lobby-work at the European commission, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to make our voice heard. Raising awareness in all fields of life – that’s the key to defeat racism!

What is the UNITED network?

UNITED coordinates, supports and strengthens a network of 560 organisations from 46 European countries. They all share values such as intercultural communication, diversity and Human Rights. We are concerned about the international situation and about the direct and indirect forms of discrimination, hate crimes and intolerance and highlight intercultural understanding, equal rights for all and a Europe without racism.

UNITED enables NGOs across Europe to have access to information, support, contacts, advice and the possibility to participate in the most exciting and effective network in Europe.
We need a common voice to speak out against racism and exclusion in Europe. For UNITED, Europe does not end at Schengen-borders. UNITED actively promotes exchange and cooperation between NGOs both from EU- and Non-EU-countries.

Voluntary cooperation is the main principle of UNITED. Hundreds of organisations are linked through the broadest and largest pan-European network of NGOs sharing similar targets. Every organisation is welcome to join common activities. For UNITED, campaigning against intolerance may never be a question of money. Therefore, participation in UNITED campaigns and the use of common UNITED material is for free, support is given free of charge, too. While we think that anti-racism-work has to be available for everyone, the constant work that is done by UNITED is still depending of its financial supporters from within the movement. More than 560 organisations from all over the continent have declared their support and contribute with their experience and a small annual fee. This is, by all means, vital to keep UNITED’s independence. As Europe’s largest anti-racism-network does not work as one-way-road, UNITED urgently needs the support of likeminded NGOs, ideally as well as financially.

Every single organisation in the network is unique and a source of expertise on its own. Only by respecting the feelings and opinions of every single part, the anti-racist chain can be strong and work effectively. UNITED actively promotes cooperation between all pro-diversity-initiatives in Europe.

UNITED’s most valuable strength is its independence. UNITED is and will always remain independent of any political or national parties. That’s why UNITED aims to receive financial support from a wide range of sources such as supporting NGOs, independent foundations, individuals, national ministries, the Council of Europe and the Commission of the EU.

The fight against racism has to be won in the people’s heads. Therefore, constant contact to media is vital in giving proper recognition to the organisations’ actions and in promoting the common aims of the UNITED network. Since 1992 UNITED has distributed over 2 million copies of PR-material and posters to thousands of NGOs and media all over Europe, making the movement visible.

From large, international youth organisations to small, but active antifascist groups, various organisations with many different approaches and focuses take the opportunity of UNITED’s international and intercultural campaigns to stand together and contribute with their very own activities. The supply of grass-root organisations with professional campaign material (posters, stickers, postcards) for free ensures a broad visibility throughout the continent and stronger local impact and media coverage.

If a group decides to make its activity part of a UNITED campaign, it can benefit from the network’s experiences as well as from its infrastructure and materials. Every UNITED campaign is dedicated to a special topic in the general context of anti-fascism, pro-diversity and against the discrimination of asylum seekers and refugees and is linked to an important date.
The UNITED campaign reports give background knowledge on the development of racism and fascism in our society and an overview of activities conducted by NGOs all over Europe as well information on the impact in each country. The campaign report also aims to inspire new organisations in joining UNITED campaigns and helps NGOs in reporting to their sponsors, lobby at local and national level and provide new ideas for future activities. Different campaigns need different activities, but the goal is the same for every activity in any part of Europe: reaching people to make them aware.

Since 1993, UNITED is documenting the deadly results of the building of ‘Fortress Europe’ and regularly publishes a list of those who die at Europe’s borders or in detention camps awaiting their deportation. More than 11.000 dead refugees and migrants have so far been documented by UNITED, with the help of a wide range of network organisations. This unique network cooperation shows that these deaths are not just ‘isolated incidents’ and creates a strong lobby document for use at national and international political level.

From Norway to Azerbaijan, every year UNITED organises international network conferences bringing together around 80-90 NGO’s from up to 35 countries each time. To ensure that the diversity within the UNITED network is represented, each conference is prepared by a rotating International Preparatory Group (IPG) consisting of committed activists from different backgrounds and regions of Europe. A conference theme and the host venue are chosen from the needs of the network thanks to a communication that goes on constantly.
UNITED has an open invitation policy for its network conferences and every NGO or active informal group within Europe can nominate a delegate. The ever-changing International Preparatory Group makes a selection from the 100s of nominations received.
These network conferences work on the basis of inter-cultural learning. The UNITED secretariat organises conferences as part of the network’s overall work and conferences are seen as catalyst part of a longer process.

A network of more than 560 NGOs all over the continent needs an efficient secretariat. Today, not more than three part-time staff members and 4-7 international full-time volunteers fulfill the needs of Europe’s largest anti-racism network. As only very limited funding is received, the network is depending of voluntary work and donations. The Amsterdam-based staff is in constant contact with the network, ensuring that information and proposals for common action are spread rapidly. On a regular basis, UNITED-mailings are sent to 2.400 organisations by post and to more than 8.000 by E-news. For starters, the UNITED secretariat has prepared Info Packs. There, newbies can find Practical help in fundraising, organising campaigns, etc.

UNITED has developed networking-tools that serve the needs of the very diverse organisations and groups throughout Europe. These tools enable a steady and smooth flow of information among all active groups in Europe and gives UNITED the possibility to act as “spider” within the network, cross-linking grass-root organisations, nation-wide anti-racist networks, international and national human rights and youth organisations, antifascist groups, refugee and migrant support organisations, sport groups, institutes, expert sources, officials, lobby organisations and media, museums and cultural centers and many, many more.

The Calendar of Internationalism is one of UNITED’s most important tools for dissemination of information. Four times a year UNITED publishes the printed edition of the Calendar containing details of campaigns, actions, seminars with dates and contact data. In 2007, each update contained between 140 and 160 announcements of activities across the continent. This way, interested individuals and organisations cannot only be easily updated on the current activities of the movement, but also ideas for their own work can be found and shared. On www.unitedagaistracism.org, the Online-Calendar is updated every week.

The European Address Book Against Racism is one of the best-known and most widely used reference books in the anti-discrimination movement throughout Europe. It provides detailed contact data and information about active groups and NGOs in Europe and their operative fields. Thanks to the Address Book organisations have an elementary instrument to get in touch with each other to exchange information and/or initiate collaborations. The updated printed 2008 edition contains the addresses of about 2300 organisations and magazines active in the field and 140 funding institutions. Furthermore, UNITED provides the movement with an Online-database enabling a targeted search within over 4000 contacts.

On a regular basis, UNITED published Info Leaflets that enable NGOs to find hints, best-practice and specific know-how about topics relevant for the every day anti-racist work. The authors are expert activists from within different parts of the UNITED network and share their knowledge and experience. Whether it is about the practical basics (“Get Active! – The ‘How to Organise an Activity’ Guide”) or the theoretical background (“How to Understand and Confront Hate Speech”), the UNITED Info Leaflets are a widely renowned tool, likewise for beginners and veterans in the anti-racist field.

WHY? Does UNITED exist?

Phenomena such as racism, fascism and discriminatory asylum policies are no exclusively national issues but have a European dimension. Racist and fascist groups are getting stronger as they aim at building their own evil networks across the continent. Also “Fortress Europe” has to be critically examined and fought at all levels. Unity is the only answer for the pro-diversity-movement.

The story of UNITED began in 1992, when participants of two anti-racist European youth seminars in Strasbourg decided to set up a network bringing together the movement in all its shades and varieties. 1992 was the year of the most violent and massive xenophobic riots taking place in Germany after the second World War – the idea of ‘UNITED for Intercultural Action’ came out from the need for a pan-European tool to strengthen and empower grass-root organisations and civil society against racism. The basic working principle “United We Are Stronger” tributes to pan-European actions of the UNITED Network, gives them broad public visibility all over Europe and enables to act and react as one strong force. Even though Internet and the means of modern technology might have made communication within the network easier, personal contacts are more important than ever for the effectiveness of campaigns across Europe. By using the infrastructure of UNITED, organisations have access to Europe’s biggest and broadest database of anti-racist NGOs. UNITED works as a transmitter of best-practice between organisations all across Europe.

WHO? Are UNITED’s network organisations?

In the fight against intolerance, nothing beats the dynamics of grass roots. The organisations within the UNITED network are active in anti-racism-work, in the battle against fascism and nationalism and in supporting migrants, refugees and minority groups. They all share their ideas and strategies and work together to put theory into practice. For example, the idea to the “Open Borders – Open Minds!”-campaign was born during a UNITED conference and has led to a coordinated series of demonstrations, info stands and political pressure. The passion to develop and advance, to take risks in order to support innovative and free-spirited projects or local movements, is reflected in the marks UNITED left since 1993.

At recent UNITED conferences participating organisations came from all over Europe: from Sweden (National Afro-Swedish Association) to Serbia (Queeria-Center for Promoting Nonviolence and Equality), from Poland (Never Again Association) to Moldova (Afro-Asian Community), from Slovakia (People Against Racism) to Spain (Movimento Contra Intolerancia) and from to Russia (Centre for Interethnic Cooperation) to Denmark (Folkesagen – Worthy Life for Asylum Seekers). Some organisations support the network as part of their broader work, like international organisations such as Minority Rights Group International, the European Youth Forum, the European Union of Jewish Students and the international network Youth Human Rights Movement

HOW? Can we get involved?

Discuss the ideas and aims of the UNITED network within your own organisation. Let us know that you would like to join or receive information. Complete the subscription form (see UNITED site ‘Joining the network’) and mail it to UNITED – simple!
And add UNITED to your mailing list!

Contact the UNITED secretariat!
We speak English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Dutch.