Prepared for delivery by Ira Forman, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism | OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting | Warsaw, September 30, 2014
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the United States’ first major legislative effort to eradicate discrimination, including voting rights, on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, and religion across all social sectors. The United States has continued to be vigilant in its efforts to put in place policies, funding, and other resources necessary to achieve the ideals of the Civil Rights Act. The United States has advanced sentencing reforms to address some of the factors contributing to disproportionately high African-American, Latino, and Native American incarceration rates. Likewise, President Obama’s new initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” seeks to expand opportunities for young people by addressing, among other things, racial disparities in justice and opportunities in our society. In August, civil society made important contributions to the United States’ efforts to address discrimination and provide equal opportunity by participating in the review of the United States’ record under the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
As we examine and strive to address challenges in the United States, we urge all participating states to look inward and recommit to advancing the implementation of tolerance commitments, including by reversing alarming spikes in racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory acts in the OSCE region. To that end, we call for all participating States to:
Support and fully utilize ODIHR’s Tolerance Unit. Increased funding for ODIHR within the unified budget and through extra-budgetary projects is needed to support the expanded workload of the Tolerance Unit, including requests from participating States for training on hate crimes, reviews of hate crimes legislation, and other monitoring and capacity building tools. Additionally, with a view to making the recently launched ODIHR hate crimes website (www.hatecrime.osce.org) a more useful tool, we encourage all participating States to provide disaggregated national hate crimes data to ODIHR. Reporting hate crimes can be the first step in broader efforts to investigate and prosecute such offences.
In light of a number of recent attacks against migrants in Greece, which have in part been fueled by xenophobic rhetoric, we welcome plans by Greece and ODIHR to hold training on combating hate crimes. We also welcome the recent adoption of an anti-discrimination law in Georgia that includes protections for members of the LGBT community. The United States regrets that there have been violent attacks in Moldova ostensibly fueled by anti-LGBT animus. We urge Moldovan public officials to speak out against such acts and ensure that violent hate crimes are effectively prosecuted.
Strengthen efforts to combat anti-Semitism as well as intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, Christians, and members of other religions. The spike in hate speech and violent physical attacks targeting Jews this summer, as well as attacks on Jewish religious and cultural institutions in many parts of the OSCE region, underscores the importance of the upcoming November commemoration of the 2004 Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism. We thank Personal Representative Rabbi Baker for his work to make this event a reality and call upon all participating States to send senior representatives. More importantly, we call on all participating States to implement concrete efforts to protect Jewish communities, and address continuing prejudices, so that Jewish communities may be secure and flourish.
We look to ODIHR to continue its programs, training, and direct engagement in OSCE states on tolerance issues. With anti-Muslim hate crimes on the rise in the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere in the region, ODIHR outreach to Muslim groups through projects such as the April 2014 expert meeting on combatting hate crimes against Muslim communities provides significant support to participating States, and to Muslim women in particular.
Strengthen OSCE tools to combat racism and xenophobia. To address longstanding issues of prejudice and discrimination faced by citizens and migrants of various backgrounds, ODIHR should publish a report on racism and xenophobia in the OSCE region, elaborate an Anti-Racism Action Plan, and establish an Anti-Racism civil society fund.
The use of a derogatory and inflammatory racist slur on the floor of the European Parliament in July highlights continuing anti-black racism at a high level. We welcome the creation of an EU Framework Strategy for the Social Inclusion of People of African Descent and Black Europeans, as well as the European Parliament hearing on this subject in February. We also applaud ODIHR’s efforts in Poland to engage government, political leaders, law enforcement, and civil society in collaborative efforts to combat hate crimes committed against blacks and others.
In closing, I would like to highlight that the three OSCE Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office visited the United States in July and participated in a public discussion of tolerance and non-discrimination at a hearing in the U.S. Congress, and met with civil society representatives and U.S. government officials. The United States welcomes the engagement of the Personal Representatives and we encourage other states to utilize the Representatives’ expertise, including by facilitating country visits.