The future of the United Kingdom is uncertain, as the challenges of a post-Brexit reality need to be faced and editorials compete in their predictions of the course the United Kingdom will take under its new prime minister.
As such, it was an encouraging sign for many, especially within the Club de Madrid, when PM Theresa May seemed to adopt the concept of Shared Society, long championed by the Club de Madrid, in a speech drawing up her plans for the future of the islands. Club de Madrid’s President, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, penned an essay in the Huffington Post in response, which doubled down on the values that Shared Societies embodies: “when everyone is involved and encouraged, they become an asset to society and a contributor to the common good, rather than being a drain or a liability”. It also emphasized that in order to be effective, governments all across the ideological spectrum need to support it, not imposing it but rather enabling it. The Prime Minister’s speech has sparked a welcome debate about the concept in the UK media. For example Frances Ryan in the Guardian gave her own views of the policy changes that would be required to create a Shared Society here.
Please to find Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s article in the following link.
Although the United Kingdom is sailing in uncharted waters, we at the Club of Madrid feel confident that there could be no better guiding principles for a nation seeking to reinvent itself than those of our Shared Societies Project and we are open to opportunities to share the insights that the Members have gained over the years.
Did you know we have a guide of good practices to achieve a Shared Society? You can find it here, and below you can learn how to use it!
What is the SSP Good Practice Guide?
The Shared Societies Good Practices Guide is an easy way to explore the goals and activities of the Shared Societies Project. Our approaches for building dialogue, diversity, and social cohesion have been divided into four parts on the color wheel. These are: arrangements, safeguards, service provisions, and intercommunity development. You can use the wheel to follow a specific approach and use the map below to see how various projects across the world are using these methods successfully, being an inspiration for our project.
Commitment one of the Shared Societies Project is to locate responsibility in order to ensure the promotion of social cohesion within government structures.
The first commitment of locating responsibility of social cohesion within government structures has three different recommended approaches. The first is to create a government department with this goal in mind that has its own minister within the government. The second is to create a unit within the executive branch that will directly report to the head of state. The third and final recommendation is to create an independent body (such as a community relations council) to act between the government and the people to encourage civil society involvement that will strengthen community relations.
The second commitment of the SSP Good Practices Guide is to create opportunities for minorities to be consulted and the Club de Madrid recommends four different approaches in order to achieve this goal. The first is to establish consultative councils on which all identity groups are represented and are given the right to be consulted on the impact of government policies. The second is to encourage identity groups to create representative bodies with which they can meet with the government and other identity group in order to explore and understand issues and concerns that affect them. The third is to create a system of community meetings that allow community members to express their views and air their grievances. The fourth and final recommendation is to mandate that public bodies include representatives of smaller identity groups in their boards and other decision making bodies.
Examples of good practices:
There are several organizations from around the world who are following the SSP Guide’s recommendations for good practice such as the Sierra Productiva which focuses on increasing national productivity in Peru by working with local farmers and new forms of technology, the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council which focuses on bringing peaceful coexistence to Muslim and Christian populations, and the CEO Philadelphia Access Network which seeks to increase small business ownership amongst minority women within the City of Philadelphia.
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. 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.
 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>.
Category: SSP related News and Videos
| Tags: europe, Greece, Immigration, Italy, Netherlands, Parliaments, representation, shared societies, Spain, SSP, UK
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.
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