UNITED was represented at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting on countering intolerance and discrimination, which took place in Vienna on 14-15 April. UNITED co-organised a side event at the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting that accompanied the main OSCE meeting, while UNITED’s Ralph du Long chaired a panel session.
Along with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and the Youth Human Rights Network, with the support of the Civic Solidarity Platform, UNITED co-convened a side event focusing on the rise of xenophobia associated with the so-called “refugee crisis” in Europe, encouraging OSCE member states to observe the recommendations of the Basel Declaration in countering xenophobia towards migrants and refugees. The side event also focused on issues such as intersectionality, and the multiple discrimination facing many refugees and migrants in Europe.
“We as a network are capable of giving good, practical ideas of how to counter racism and xenophobia.” Said Balint Josa, who represented UNITED at the event. “That’s why we did the side event, to make the states realise this and get to know our work.”
UNITED’s Ralph du Long also played a key role at the event, chairing a panel focusing on the root causes of xenophobia and intolerance.
The OSCE meeting on countering intolerance and discrimination was organised by the OSCE’s 2016 German Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). It brought together representatives of governments and of civil society organisations working on issues related to tolerance and non-discrimination from the Organization’s 57 participating States and Partners for Co-operation.
“In addition to the focus on countering intolerance and discrimination, it is important that we seize this opportunity to discuss basic fundamental principles of a pluralistic society – freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression and movement – as well as to understand how these fundamental freedoms are maintained while addressing the growing threat of terrorism and the rise of more robust security methods and policies,” said OSCE director Michael Georg Link said. “While discussing these inter-related themes, it is also vitally important to examine the nexus between tolerance, or the lack thereof, and security.”