February 12, 2009 – Strasbourg. Ethnic and race-based discrimination is the target of a new campaign by the Council of Europe in its 47 member states. The ‘Speak Out Against Discrimination’ campaign flows from the Council of Europe’s White Paper on intercultural dialogue, published in May 2008. “Our mandate is to defend and extend – across our 47 member states – the values of freedom and human dignity for every individual, regardless of his or her nationality, ethnic origin, cultural background, religious beliefs or other characteristics,” said the Council of Europe’s Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.
The organisation believes that the media can make a crucial contribution to raising awareness of discrimination. The campaign enlists media professionals and journalism training institutes to bring into focus the role of the media in a multicultural Europe and its positive role in the promotion of dialogue in a multi-ethnic, multi faith environment. As part of the campaign the Council of Europe is developing an educational toolkit for newsrooms and journalism schools with the involvement of universities, news organizations and NGOs including SEENPM.
The campaign began with a Strasbourg conference in November 2008 to discuss the contribution of sport to social cohesion and dialogue. Former Barcelona footballer Lillian Thuram, capped 142 times for France, was a keynote speaker at the event, where he outlined plans for his own foundation ‘Education against Racism.’ A network of European cities will join in the promotion of the campaign’s central theme. In January 2009, some 1200 posters brought home the importance of the campaign to residents of Rome. A poster blitz in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Strasbourg (France) complemented the launch of a new English and French web site and television appeals and ‘focus’ events are planned for the coming year.