Discrimination, racism and xenophobia referat

Discrimination, racism and xenophobia

Racism To intoduce my report, I want Christian to read a short information about the genocid in Rwuanda in 1994. In my opinion the Tutsi massacres are the most important example for racial violence after the second world war! I’ve devided this report in the six following parts: . 1. “DISCRIMINATION – THE ENDLESS AND ONGOING STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY” The principle that all human beings have equal rights and should be treated equally is a cornerstone of the notion of human rights and evolves from the inherent and equal human dignity of every individual. But this natural right of equality has never been fully provided to all human beings, neither in the past nor in the present. Discrimination has occurred against indigenous people and minorities everywhere, against Jews, against the Aborigines of Australia and the Roma of Europe. It occurs against children who are bullied or abused, against women treated as less valuable human beings, against people infected with HIV/AIDS and against those with physical or psychological impairments or who have different sexual orientation. It is even found in our language, through which we sometimes demarcate ourselves from others, intentionally or unintentionally. 2. DEFINITION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE ISSUE Discrimination (K A R R I K A T U R “Dicker Kunde”) Definition: Discrimination in general, considered as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference aimed at the denial or refusal of equal rights and their protection, is the denial of the principle of equality and an affront to human dignity. Depending on the reasons for this treatment we speak about “discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, colour, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc”. It is crucial to know that not every distinction can automatically be defined as discrimination in the sense of a human rights abuse. As long as the distinction is based on reasonable and objective criteria, it may be justifiable. In general we can identify three elements, which are common to all forms of discrimination: • actions that are qualified as discriminatory such as distinction, exclusion, restriction and preference. • causes of discrimination, personal characteristics such as race, colour, descent, national/ethnic origin, gender, age, physical integrity etc. • purposes and/or consequences of discrimination, which have the aim, or effect of preventing victims from exercising and/or enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Subsequently a distinction has to be made between direct discrimination, (describing the purpose), where the actor intends to discriminate against a person/group and indirect discrimination, (related to consequences), where an apparently neutral provision or measure de facto favours one person/group compared to others. EXAMPLE of indirect discrimination: Shops or businesses which do not hire people with long skirts or covered heads – these neutral clothing provisions may in practice disproportionately disadvantage members of certain groups. Racism It is interesting, that a generally accepted definition of racism does not exstist, because many different views on its exact meaning and scope conflict with each other. Racism can be seen as a conscious or unconscious belief in the inherent superiority of one race over another or as an attitude and a system of practices that “proposes to establish a racial order, a permanent group hierarchy that is believed to reflect the laws of God.” This definition of racism lies between the view of it as a modern concept that grew out of scientific theories of race and an understanding of it as a manifestation of ancient tribalism. In any case the term racism causes a lot of discussion, because the term itself presupposes the existence of different races, which has been shown to be scientifically. Today “race” is seen as a social construct and more emphasis is put on cultural differences rather than on biological characteristics, so that one could speak of a newly evolved “cultural racism”, which probably is the better description for most of the actual attitudes of today’s “racist” people. Racism as a way of thinking may be harmful, but without manifestation it cannot be sanctioned. This means that racist ideas can not be characterized as human rights violations, because freedom of opinion and belief itself constitute an important human right. Only if these prejudices and thoughts lead to discriminatory policies, social customs or the cultural separation of groups, we can talk of sanctionable discriminatory actions or racial discrimination. These actions can either be carried out by a “predominant race” creating a hierarchical order or by individuals exercising control over others. (K A R R I K A T U R “Mr. Differently”) The former Apartheid system of South Africa is a vivid example of an institutionalized form of racism and racial discrimination, where the Apartheid laws structurally segregated blacks from whites. Racial violence is a particularly grave example of the impact of racism, constituting specific acts of violence or harassment carried out against an individual or group on the basis of race, colour, descent or national/ ethnic origin. The construction of a group as a threat is an essential part of the social and political environment in which acts of violence based on hate occur. Racism and racially motivated violence have figured prominently in a lot of news stories all over the world (e. g. O. J. Simpson trial). During the last decades of fighting racism and racial discrimination a broader understanding of the term racism was developed, including the realization that all societies in the world are affected and hindered by it. The international community has undertaken to determine the basic causes of racism and to call for the reforms necessary to prevent the eruption of conflicts rooted in racism or racial discrimination. Unfortunately, in spite of all attempts to abolish policies and practices based on those phenomena, these theories and practices are still in existence or are even gaining ground or taking new forms, such as the so-called cruel and criminal policy of “ethnic-cleansing”. Prejudice: The classic definition is that given by the famous Harvard psychologist, Gordon Allport, who states that “prejudice is an antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalization; it may be felt or expressed; it may be directed toward a group or an individual of that group.” Both terms can easily be a motivation for any kind of discriminatory actions. Generally speaking intolerance and prejudice are often seen as the foundation and starting point for other more “specified” behaviours such as racism or xenophobia. (K A R R I K A T U R “Racist Policeman)” The notion of ethnic prejudice has only recently been developed, describing antipathy based on an allegation of the cultural supremacy of a particular group in relation to another one. In the European context, for example, it is exemplified by anti-Turkish, anti-Polish or anti-Russian prejudices. As it typically attacks the cultural/religious traits (real or imagined) of a particular group, some similarities to the recent understanding of racism as “cultural racism” can be seen. Usually these two phenomena, prejudice and intolerance, are the hardest to address or fight against. 3. TRENDS • Relation between Poverty and Racism/ Xenophobia In many parts of the world poverty is a matter of ethnicity. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, African- American and Hispanic households face food insecurity and hunger rates up to three times higher than white households. Visible minority immigrants are confronted with neediness world-wide. Quite often racism seems to be a cause for these circumstances (e. g. barriers to equal participation in the job market). A very controversial issue is the debate on greater racist tendencies in poorer classes of society. Some experts believe that lower education is more prevalent within the poorer population. They then conclude that even though racism certainly exists in “upper classes with higher education” as well, poverty linked with less education may lead to a higher probability of racist attitudes. This kind of racism, however, is seen as an excluding behaviour in which the struggle for their own survival seems to be the main motivation, rather than a racist ideology. Anti-Islamism: The Aftermath of 11 September 2001 (F O L I E !!!) In the week following the 11 September 2001 attacks there were 540 reported attacks on Arab-Americans and at least 200 on Sikhs (Indian descent) on national U. S. territory, compared with 600 reported attacks on Arab- Americans in 2001 (Crisis Response Guide, Amnesty International, 2001). In Europe numbers are similar. International Standards (F O L I E !!!) The most important international treaty on racial discrimination is the “Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination”, which was ratified in 1965. It is based on the principle of dignity and equality, condemns any forms of racial discrimination and instructs states to implement all appropriate means to eliminate racial discrimination. So far it has been ratified by 165 states world-wide and has proved to be a very relevant tool in the struggle against racial discrimination. Different levels of obligations with regard to the principle of non-discrimination are applicable to states, the private sector and in some regard also to individuals. • Obligation to respect: In this context states are prohibited against acting in contravention of recognised rights and fundamental freedoms. • Obligation to protect: This element requires that states protect individuals from violations of their rights. With regard to discrimination it also refers to racism among private persons, so that the state has to actively “combat” racial discrimination by individuals in society. • Obligation to fulfil: This obligation demands that the state provides for the most effective realization of the guaranteed rights through adequate legal, administrative, judicial or factual measures. Article 5 of CERD requires State Parties to take steps to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination and guarantee this right to everyone. Obligations in the private sector (NGOs, media, etc.): This includes the systematic incorporation of intercultural values, respect and understanding for racial, ethnic and cultural diversity in youth education. During the World Conference Against Racism preparatory process a lot of other interesting examples and ideas were reported. For instance the efforts already going on in a number of African countries combating racial prejudices in schoolbooks and curricula, or a proposed European initiative where school networks draw up a code of conduct, incorporating clear principles of non-discrimination into their educational objectives. In many countries there exist school exchange programs, encouraging students from different countries to share their cultures and learn each other’s languages. The crucial power of the media can be seen e. g. in the case of “Radio Mille Collines” in Rwanda which instigated Hutus to massacre Tutsis during the Civil War in 1994. 4. INTERCULTURAL PERSPECTIVES AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES Racism and racial discrimination are global problems manifested in a variety of ways. Although the word racism is spontaneously linked with discrimination by whites against non-whites, there is no society that can claim to be free from any form of racism. Anti- Semitism, racial discrimination or misconceived superiority are undoubtedly manifested more explicitly in the Western hemisphere, but this does not preclude the existence of racism in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Koreans in Japan for example, have no right to hold public positions, only because of their Korean ethnic origin. The caste system in India, often described as “unique to its historical process”, gravely discriminates the untouchables, including mass rape and organized massacres by upper castes. African countries didn’t do any better; thousands of Asians were driven out of East and Central Africa with cruel racist policies. Not to forget the discrimination within different tribes, as members of minority tribes not belonging to the majority ruling tribe face racial harassment, discrimination and life-threatening disadvantages in their daily life. In Europe, the discrimination of Roma poses one of Europe’s most serious though most neglected and hidden human rights problems. Having been nomads for much of their history, the Roma have usually been forced to assimilate, in some countries their language has been forbidden and their children have been taken away from their parents. Today, Roma communities still experience discrimination in many different spheres of life such as employment, housing, education, access to justice or access to health care services. 5. IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING Besides stating the obligations of State Parties, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also established the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which was the first UN treaty body to monitor and review the implementation of the Convention and promote a strong implementation of the Convention. The system created consists essentially of three procedures: a reporting procedure obligatory for all State Parties, a procedure of state-to-state complaints which is open to all State Parties and the right of petition – communications – by individuals or groups within the jurisdiction of State Parties claiming to be victims of violation. The importance of preventive strategies such as early-warning systems, preventive visiting mechanisms, urgent procedures and education, however, has long been underestimated, thus neglecting the more effective response to discrimination and racism, as these strategies tackle the phenomena at its origin. 6. What Can WE Do? The real challenge is not the protection or penalization, but the prevention of discrimination, meaning to avert discriminatory acts before they take place. Therefore it is necessary to address attitudes, beliefs and consequent actions and behaviour. This very difficult task can only be achieved through institutionalized human rights education, local information with a bottom-up approach and full participation of national authorities in cooperation with all relevant non-state actors. Being observer of a discriminatory or racist action: It is important to develop moral courage, interfere if possible, forward the noticed cases or incidents to competent institutions and get access to possible national or international remedies (UN CERD, national ombudsmen). In general, every individual can explore ways in which community organizations can work together to promote positive race relations and encourage dialogue on racism and human rights in their surroundings.

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