The International Coalition of Cities against Racism is an initiative launched by UNESCO in 2004 to establish a network of cities interested in sharing experiences in order to improve their policies to fight racism, discrimination and xenophobia.
In times of growing globalisation and urbanization, municipalities are a key factor in ensuring that all their citizens, regardless of their nationality, ethnic, cultural, religious or social origin can live in dignity, security and justice. The initiative is expressly supported by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the world’s largest organisation of municipalities, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).
On December 10th 2004, the “European Coalition of Cities against Racism” was established in Nuremberg, and a “Ten-Point-Plan of Action” was adopted. In order to take into account the special conditions and priorities of different regions of the world, further regional coalitions have been established in the two following years and have worked out their own action plans.
The “Welcoming Cities – Keys for an anti-racist culture” General Conference was held in Karlsruhe, Germany, October 8-9, organized by the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism. In these intense two days, representatives of European Cities identified and shared good practices to fight against racism, promote social inclusion and improve the efficiency of the public services offered to migrant and refugee’s population.
The Club de Madrid Shared Societies Project has decided that involvement with local activities has a number of advantages; promoting social inclusion at this level may be possible when national governments are not ready to engage with issues of inter-group relations at the level of national policy. To develop this area of work, the Club de Madrid has developed a publication to emphasize the role of Shared Societies at the local level with dedicated materials based on the existing Shared Societies Project documents and made specifically relevant to local contexts. The English and French versions of the publication, “Local Government for Shared Societies”, was disseminated during the Conference in Karlsruhe.
Benedetto Zacchiroli, ECCAR President and representative of the City of Bologna, gave the keynote speech focused on the challenges of the recent refugee crisis in Europe. He stressed that “the Mayors of European cities are in the forefront of receiving the requests of help for immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, to facilitate their acceptance and their integration.”
Turning to the issue of migration, Frank Mentrup, Mayor of Karlsruhe, stressed that “the exchange of best practices is the best tool to combat racism and discrimination.” The Mayor also explained how the City of Karlsruhe is undertaking special measures to promote a culture of anti-racism through cooperation with civil society organizations and actions in public spaces of the city.
Club de Madrid staff officer, Rafael Moreno, and representatives of the ECCAR Secretariat and UNESCO held bilateral meetings in order to discuss further cooperation on initiatives to promote social inclusion and diversity at the local level.