Paris, France, September 2018 – There is increasing recognition in Europe that our common security policies must rely on the indispensable alliance between safety and the respect for fundamental rights. High level representatives from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union recognised this vital nexus at the opening of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw (PL), on 10 September 2018. Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said: “There is a need for participating States to renew their efforts to counter rising trends of intolerance and discrimination. Once we go down the slippery slope of allowing intolerance and discrimination to thrive, no group – and I repeat, no group – can assume that they are immune once the principle has been eroded.”
Efus has been promoting since its foundation an integrated vision of public security as a common good and fundamental right of all our cities’ and regions’ inhabitants. Since 2015, countering hate and intolerance has been a focus of Efus’ project-related activities and in 2017, Efus produced a practical guidebook on how to prevent discriminatory violence at the local level and included a section on the topic in its political roadmap, the Security, Democracy and Cities: Co-Producing Urban Security Policies manifesto. By way of its European cooperation projects, its consultation offers and these publications, Efus offers practical guidance and support to cities in implementing strategies and projects against racism, LGBT*-phobia, sexism and other forms of violence and crime motivated by prejudice, intolerance or hate.
> The “Just & Safer Cities for All” working group: stepping up common efforts against discrimination
In order to better coordinate the wide range of activities on this topic conducted by Efus members, Efus launched the “Just & Safer Cities for All” working group at its May 2018 General Assembly in Liege (BE). Led by the cities of Vienna (AT) and Bordeaux (FR), it aims to step up our common efforts to better protect fundamental rights through and in public security policies and to increase cooperation between local authorities and European institutions tasked with human rights promotion. Marik Fetouh, Deputy Mayor of Bordeaux in charge of Equality and Citizenship, explained at its inception: “The city of Bordeaux is co-leading Efus’ “Just & Safer Cities for All” working group because we believe that preventing and countering discriminatory violence is central to making cities more safe and livable for everyone. With our European cooperation projects we support concrete local actions against hate and intolerance and foster social cohesion at the local level across Europe.”
> A number of events to promote Efus’ approach on preventing discrimination
In the framework of this working group, Efus members will participate in a number of events to promote its approach on this issue and exchange with other institutions, organisations and networks in the field:
- From 25-27 September, Efus will participate in the Fundamental Rights Forum organised by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna (AT). Particularly, Efus will contribute to the discussions around the topic “Local action as a driver of human rights and belonging” and participate in a meeting of human rights cities.
- On 26 September, Efus will present and discuss its approach to counter discriminatory violence during the conference “Hate no More” organised by the Portuguese Victim Support Organisation APAV in Lisbon (PT).
- On 31 October, on the occasion of the World Cities Day under the theme “building sustainable and resilient cities”, Efus and Unesco will co-organise in Paris an event to celebrate the key role of cities in promoting social inclusion and preventing discriminatory violence, which will gather high level international municipal representatives.
To further develop its activities in this field and effectively counter from the local level the current rise in right wing extremist ideologies and movements across Europe, Efus will develop further European cooperation projects and involve an even broader range of member cities and regions. Currently, three related project proposals are in preparation – you can find further information on these projects and the modalities of participation here.