Archive for SSP related News and Videos

Is Immigration Represented in your Parliament?

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In recent years, European countries have grown increasingly diverse and welcomed immigrants from all parts of the world. It goes without saying that successful integration of the recently arrived immigrants is essential to creating an equitable Shared Society and preventing ethnic, racial and demographic tensions.

One way of measuring integration is by assessing the level of political representation of immigrants. Having high level politicians that represent your needs in the legislative or executive branches is a vital part of successful integration. The Pathways Project, a collaborative effort of several European universities, seeks to do just that, by focusing its effort on diversity assessment among several European parliaments. The findings reveal that the Spanish parliament has a long way to go, while 10% of Spanish citizens are immigrants or first generation citizens, they make up only 1% of MPs.[1] In this regard Southern Europe in general is more backwards than Northern Europe, as Italy and Greece have similar statistics. Northern Europe, led by the UK and the Netherlands, has the highest proportion of immigrant MPs at 11 and 13%, respectively. One could offer a historical argument to explain the discrepancies among the countries, by pointing out that the UK and the Netherlands are historically maritime powers that have welcomed immigrants for many decades from their former colonies.

Encouragingly for Spain though, individual attitudes on immigration are much more positive; however, the authors of the report posit that the tide might change if Spanish citizens experience negative consequences of the immigration wave that came at the dawn of 2000s.   Countries of Southern Europe should carefully examine the inclusive policies of the UK and Netherlands in order to either replicate the policies adjusting for their individual countries or create new policies with inclusivity in mind. Increasing the percentage of immigrants and first generations MPs is an effective way of promoting several of the goals of Shared Society, such as Commitment II, creating opportunities for minorities and Commitment VIII, fostering a shared vision of society at the local and national level by increasing visibility and communication between different identity groups.



[1] Criado, Miguel Angel. “El Congreso Español Es El Que Tiene Menos Miembros De Origen Inmigrante.” Elpais.com. El Pais, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. <http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/02/15/ciencia/1455521726_813402.html>.

Shared Societies Project Ideas at World Humanitarian Summit

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Over 65 Heads of State and other influential personnel are gathering in Istanbul, Turkey from May 23-24, 2016 for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, organized by the United Nations and hosted by the Presidency of Turkey, to address the reforming humanitarian system as it relates to the current, migration crisis. The aim of the conference is to come up with a more comprehensive framework, aimed to tackle the needs of millions of people who have been displaced from their homes due to conflict or climate disasters, and are consequently more prone to hunger, poverty and overall human misery. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an emotional plea to the participants of the conference in his opening remarks, saying: “Today, we declare: We are one humanity with a shared responsibility. Let us resolve here and now not only to keep people alive, but to give people a chance at a life in dignity.”

The concept of human dignity, as mentioned by Ban-Ki moon and later on in the summit by participants of the conference in various workshops and seminars, is also embedded in the definition of a ´shared society, as defined by Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP). In order to form a stable, safe, cohesive society respect for everyone´s dignity and human rights is essential. Migrants should be treated as equal members of the society who are in distress. Political leaders of each country thus are responsible for shaping their politics in such a way that will delegitimize the often racism-driven intercommunity conflicts. During the round table meeting held the first day of the Summit on Political Leadership to End and Prevent Conflict, many leaders committed to the responsibility to steer their country´s politics in a direction which will protect human rights, dignity without use of force, in turn creating a more stable society[1].

SSP`s Commitment VII[2] , which addresses the need for an inclusive education system committed to the concept of shared society, was addressed at the summit as it relates to the inclusivity of the education. If education is made available to refugee children, it will be pivotal in reducing the vulnerability and increasing self reliance of refugees in the future, which is on the Agenda of the Summit. What adds to the saliency of this issue is the demographics of the refugees. In 2014, 51% of the refugee population were children and about half of them were not attending primary school[3]. Securing education for these children should not be viewed as a cost, but rather an investment in the future.

At a time when 125 million people face humanitarian crisis, tangible political action from the international community is needed and must arrive promptly. SSP recognizes this conference as a step towards such action, especially given that the leaders present at the summit will tackle the responsibilities to which they committed in turn creating a more stable, safer world. The uniqueness of the summit lies in its “top down” approach of addressing challenges of human suffering caused primarily due to migration crisis, as it is the leaders themselves, rather than grassroots organizations, that have gathered to address this challenge. As UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson expressed during the Summit, instead of fearing or fighting this change, “We need to stand up for the beauty of diversity in our societies.”

 

 

[1] From the Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: shared responsibility.” https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org

[2] Commitment VII: Ensure an education system that offers equal opportunity for developing the knowledge, skills, capacities and networks necessary for children to become productive, engaged members of society and that demonstrates a commitment to a shared society and educates children to understand and respect others.

[3] From the Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: shared responsibility.” https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org

A Training Program to Lower Walls in Israel

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A new initiative in Jerusalem, Lowering the Walls: Leaders Combating Racism in Jerusalem, is taking small but concrete steps towards creating a truly shared and inclusive city. The goal is to lower tensions between Arabs and Jews.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Shatil and IDC Herzliya (a civil society and an educational organization, respectively) and has brought together 16 diverse leaders from the public and private sector to focus on the critical role that bystanders play in enabling racism. Small actions by local community leaders that may appear insignificant can actually go a long way in combating these issues. To that effect, the initiative has spurred several encouraging developments – for instance, the project is bringing together Arab cab drivers and Jewish municipal parking inspectors to reduce tensions between the two groups, while the city´s human resources department is training city staff to better integrate Ethiopian-Israelis into the municipal workforce. In addition, the director of a local museum is curating an exhibit on how individuals can prevent injustices in society.

“This course was very important to me and I felt honored to participate”, said Merav Maor, executive director of the Museum on the Seam. “I would like to see as many trainings like this as possible.” These are the small but critical steps that must be taken by civil society to build a better, more inclusive world. Indeed, Club de Madrid´s Shared Societies Project, supports steps like these as a way to pave the road towards a more tolerant and inclusive society. More specifically, the initiatives of Shatil and IDC Herzliya fall under Commitment VIII and IX of Shared Society – education for shared societies and promoting appreciation of diversity. We are pleased to see work being done to promote these goals.

Chicago Police Recruits More Minorities

Protesters Continue to Demonstrate Against Police Killings

At a time when interactions In the United States of America between police and minority communities it is important not to forget the efforts that are being made to address the problems. In Chicago, the police are emphasizing the recruitment and hiring of minority police officers.

Research shows that having minority cops in minority neighborhoods has a strong symbolic and physiological effects of fostering more intimate, more trusting bonds between the community and the police which at times helps to prevent needless violence. As stated by Fox News, currently, about 70% of the 14,000 officer applicants are black, Hispanic and Asian, which constitutes a 13% jump in minority applicants. Recruiters visited churches, schools, community events and advertised in Spanish to bolster interest among minorities to apply. The goal is to ¨build a police force that represents the diversity of the entire city¨ and change the ¨culture¨ of policing.[1]

The aims of the Chicago police align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society that respects diversity and protects human dignity. More specifically, the current efforts of the Chicago police department are tied with SSP´s Commitment X, which calls for measures to reduce intercommunity tensions and hostility and ensure that members from all communities are protected from abuse, intimidation and violence.

Hopefully the recent steps aimed at bolstering minority representation in the police force will adhere to the aims of Commitment X, especially as it emphasizes the importance of police in acting as community leaders who respect the diverse structure and ethnic nuances of areas which they guard. Having a responsible, respectful police force which is representative of its community and does not rely exclusively on force to mediate conflicts will be a step towards building a much more wholesome shared society.

 


[1] “To Rebuild Trust, Chicago Police Recruit More Minorities.” Fox2now. Fox News, 23 Feb. 2016. Web.

<http://fox2now.com/2016/02/23/to-rebuild-trust-chicago-police-recruit-more-minorities/>.

Shared Societies at the Oscars

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The Oscar´s gala celebrated yesterday in Los Angeles left, besides awards, serious critics for its lack of diversity among the nominees. “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn´t even get the job”, said Chris Rock, host of the gala. None of the nominees were black, a fact that ignited complaints that ended in a boycott from various artists, and the representation of Hispanic nominees relies on Alejandro González Iñarritu and his team.
Although the film industry is not ideal when it comes to promote social inclusion (since 2000 only 3% of nominations have gone to Hispanic people when they represent 16% of the population, just 1% to Asians; and women make 20% less than their male colleagues), perhaps things are changing.

The Screen Actors Guild awards (SAG) celebrated last January 30th is a small proof. Idris Elba proclaimed the ceremony “diverse TV” when he went on stage to collect his award for best supporting actor for Beasts of No Nation. Jeffrey Tambor won best actor for his role in Transparent, Queen Latifah and Viola Davis were among the winners for their roles in Bessie and How to get away with murder respectively, and Uzo Aduba was crowned again as best supporting actress for her role as Crazy Eyes in the series Orange is the New Black, which also won best comedy. Orange is the New Black is a TV show that narrates the daily life in a women´s penitentiary, where people from very different backgrounds and with different nationalities and races have to live together. The show has been praised for touching on sensitive and usually hidden topics such as the transgender world thanks to the role of Laverne Cox (Sophia Burset on the show), who is a transgender in real life. Laura Prepon, from this same comedy, claimed that diversity is necessary in the industry and said regarding the SAG awards: “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity”.

According to The Economist, numbers suggest that the black population is not underrepresented in the awards; instead, the white population is overrepresented. Black actors get 9% of top roles and 10% of them get a nomination. The problem is actually behind the camera, where there are only 6% of black directors, and black women are almost non-existent. When it comes to Hispanic and Asian actors in top roles, the problem is much bigger. Some point out that the problem is not the nominations, but the lack of training and opportunities for minorities in the film industry. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science president and African-American, is trying to change the situation. She announced a five-year plan to expand executive´s thinking when hiring new talent.
If discrimination occurs in such a high profile profession and among highly rated film stars, it must be much worse among the poor. Club de Madrid and the Shared Societies Project applaud that events and professions of such magnitude are conscious of the importance of diversity, and invites the film industry to a self-critique and evaluation of the way the industry works. Although change will take time to happen, the most important thing, as mentioned by Lea Delaria, is that at least we are having this conversation and raising concerns.

Muslim World Holds Conference Affirming Rights of Non-Muslims

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Photo: Shahed Amanullah

On January 25-27, hundreds of political and religious leaders from the Muslim world and beyond met in Marrakech to discuss and affirm the rights of non-Muslims in their countries. The conference, titled Religious Minorities in Muslim Countries: The Legal Framework and Call for Action, is believed to be the first of its kind since the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, outlined the rights of non-Muslims in the Charter of Medina – over 1,400 years ago. Leaders from throughout the Islamic world were invited, as well as leaders from several other religions, such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C and Rabbi Burt Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

As stated in The Washington Post, the main goal of the conference is to reject the teachings of radical groups like Islamic State from within the traditions of Islam, establishing a religious argument (instead of a purely secular one) in favor of tolerance and diversity. The idea is to remind Muslims and the world in general how seriously religious tolerance is affirmed in Muhammad´s teachings – for example, Article 17 of the Charter of Medina: No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. “We want to counter the idea that Muslims and non-Muslims can’t live together,” explains Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a conference participant and co-founder of Zaytuna College. “This is not who we are or who we want to be.” It is also hoped that the conference will serve as a foundation for Muslims around the world in creating constitutions, school curricula, and other official documents.

The Club de Madrid applauds the work of the conference and believes it is essential in creating truly inclusive, free communities. As outlined in the Shared Societies Commitments*, promote understanding and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity is an essential feature of a Shared Society. This conference, the first in more than a millennium, is an encouraging sign towards solving the needless conflict between religions among the world.

*Commitment IX: www.clubmadrid.org/en/ssp/commitments_and_approaches_br_for_shared_societies

 

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