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OSCE Conference in Prague focuses on effective migration management

OSCE Conference in Prague focuses on effective migration management

20/10/2008

Improving legal migration and reducing illegal migration through a combination of comprehensive policy instruments and control mechanisms is the focus of an OSCE Conference that started in Prague today.

The event brought together more than 150 participants, representing Governments, international organizations, civil society and the business community. Participants discussed such issues as migration and economic development, environmental degradation and security, the protection of migrants, circular migration, border management co-operation and combating criminal activities related to migration.

"Economic and environmentally induced migration is becoming more pressing than ever, and there is a growing need to shape the appropriate policies to deal with the issue," said Theodoros Skylakakis, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Co-operation in the Greek Foreign Ministry.

"Developing countries should learn from the mistakes of the developed world. They should address the challenges of the future, continuing the relevant reforms, in order to achieve a sustainable and environmentally friendly economic development."

Bernard Snoy, the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, added that the key prerequisites to achieve these common goals were "effective migration management, including good governance and bilateral and regional co-operation in the field".

Managing migration in an effective way, in order to maximize its benefits and minimize its disadvantages, while enhancing co-operation and contributing to stability and security in the OSCE region, is one of the priorities of the 2009 OSCE Greek Chairmanship.

The Prague conference is the first preparatory event for next year's 17th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum which will focus on "Migration management and its linkages with economic, social and environmental policies to the benefit of stability and security in the OSCE region". The Forum will be held in two stages - from 19 to 20 January 2009 in Vienna; and from 18 to 20 May in Athens. A second preparatory Conference is scheduled to take place early next year.

Source:http://www.osce.org/item/34394.html

Top UN human rights official urges States to uphold pledges to fight racism

Top UN human rights official urges States to uphold pledges to fight racism

20/10/2008

The United Nations human rights chief today called on States to do more to uphold the promises they made seven years ago to tackle racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance – global problems that still plague millions on a daily basis.
“I urge all Member States to travel that extra mile that makes historic change possible, and to focus on the concrete pledges undertaken in Durban that will help bring an end to all forms of discrimination,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay said, referring to the World Conference Against Racism held in South Africa in 2001.

She added that implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action – the landmark documents agreed by Governments seven years ago – “still lags sorely and lamentably behind the solemn commitments that States pledged to fulfil seven years ago.”

Addressing a preparatory meeting in Geneva for next year’s review of the progress made since Durban, Ms. Pillay urged States to participate in the process “to ensure that victims of racism, inequality, injustice and intolerance are not left to believe that the international community is incapable of overcoming its differences in order to properly and fully address their plight.”

She recalled that, seven years ago, “the virulent anti-Semitic behaviour of a few non-governmental organizations [NGOs] on the sidelines” overshadowed the work of the Conference.

The ongoing review process, she stated, provided a much-needed opportunity to assess and accelerate progress on implementation of the Programme of Action, which would help end all forms of discrimination including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

At the same time, the review process is “burdened, understandably, with a fear that incidents expressing hatred and intolerance will be repeated.”

Ms. Pillay called on States to take a more forward-looking approach. “It would be tragic to allow this fear to compromise our efforts to find common ground and to hinder our ability to promote further effective action to eliminate hatred and intolerance of this very kind,” she stated.


Source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28445&Cr=racism&Cr1

OSCE hate crime report finds continued pattern of violent attacks on minorities

OSCE hate crime report finds continued pattern of violent attacks on minorities

20/10/2008

Members of visibly identifiable groups who stand out from majority populations because of their religion, ethnicity or other perceived characteristics remain the target of often brutal physical attacks, says a report on hate crimes in the OSCE region launched today.

The report, compiled by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and launched at the OSCE's annual human rights and democracy conference in Warsaw, found that many of the hate-motivated incidents were characterized by extreme brutality, frequently resulting in serious injury or death.

"The continuing occurrence of such violent manifestations of hate and intolerance is extremely disturbing. Hate crimes target individuals, but they instil fear in entire communities. This has the potential to destabilize and threaten the security of society as a whole," said Ambassador Lenarcic, Director of the ODIHR.

The 183-page report, which covers incidents reported in 2007, emphasized that data on hate crimes remained patchy and inconsistent across the OSCE region, making it difficult to determine the frequency of hate crimes and which groups were most vulnerable to attack. The report underlined that in particular, hate-motivated incidents against Muslims, Christians, and other religious groups, as well as homophobic hate crimes, continued to be significantly under-reported and under-recorded.

Drawing information from official sources, media reports and non governmental organizations, the report identified several key recurrent patterns. Religious institutions, places of worship and Holocaust memorials were frequent targets of attacks. Damage to Holocaust memorials echoes the emergence of the Holocaust as a rhetorical means to threaten and to offend Jews.

Those defending human rights, in particular the rights of vulnerable groups and minorities, were also victims of hate crimes.

Another alarming phenomenon identified by the report is the frequent occurrence of attacks of a racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic nature during sporting events.

The report found that "perhaps most disturbing was a trend for high-ranking members of government and mainstream political parties to introduce prejudices against various such groups into the realm of public discussion".

The report does not include a profile of perpetrators of hate crimes, but ODIHR has expressed concern about the evident involvement of loosely organized young people adhering to racist ideologies or more organized hate groups in reported hate crimes. Organized hate groups continue to use the Internet to disseminate their views, to recruit potential members, to incite hate crimes and violence, to threaten groups or individuals, and to co-ordinate their activities at the international level, according to the report.

"Fear provoked by hate crimes undermines the basic human rights for whole communities, including the right to equality, freedom of movement and freedom of religion and belief. It will therefore remain a priority of my office to assist participating States in their endeavours to prevent and to combat hate crimes," said Lenarcic.

ODIHR has developed a wide range of assistance programmes, including support for establishing bodies and mechanisms to improve data collection, training law enforcement officials, and conducting awareness-raising and educational programmes to fight prejudice and intolerance.

Source: http://www.osce.org/item/33905.html

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"European citizenship: not just words, but also concrete rights!": European Union information campaign moving to Germany

17/10/2008

Today [14 October] the European Commission launches in Germany the second part of an information campaign focused on the citizens of the European Union. Under the slogan "European citizenship is not just words, but also concrete rights", the campaign, which has taken the shape of a road-show, will visit 59 German cities from 15 to 25 October 2008. Through this campaign, people will be given information about their rights as citizens of the European Union, as defined in the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union.

"At a time when physical borders within the EU are disappearing", EU Commission Vice president Jacques Barrot said, "legal barriers too often persist. We therefore need to build up awareness of the rights granted to European citizens to enable them to assert those rights in any EU Member State and beyond. With this campaign, we are aiming to enhance protection, promotion and respect of EU citizens' rights."

EU citizens' rights include the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in a local and European election in the Member State of residence; the right to good administration by the European institutions and the right to lodge a complaint in case of maladministration by them; the right of access to EU institutions' documents; the right to petition the European Parliament; the right to protection by the embassy or consulate of any EU Member state if you have a problem in a place where your country is not represented. And, last but not least, they also include the right to move and reside freely within the European Union.

The road-show will be launched today by a press conference at the Commission Representation Office in Berlin and will tour 59 cities. It is expected to reach a total of some 35,000 citizens of all ages. In order to attract and inform a maximum of visitors, EU-labelled travelling tents will be put up in open-air public places and will offer interactive quizzes and informal information sessions. Visitors can test their knowledge of their rights as EU citizens and will be offered brochures, posters, mini-booklets and other giveaways.

The first road-show 2008 took place in Romania last September and attracted some 25,000 citizens in 40 cities. The next road-show will be held in Bulgaria (November 2008), while other Member states (Slovakia and Slovenia) will be visited in 2009.

For further information: www.eu-buergerschaft.eu

 

Source: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1499&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Minority communities can serve as bridges between states, says OSCE High Commissioner

Minority communities can serve as bridges between states, says OSCE High Commissioner

09/10/2008

The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebaek, launched a set of recommendations on national minorities in inter-State relations today in the capital of Italy's bilingual Bolzano/Bozen province.

"Tensions over national minority issues have defined much of contemporary history. The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations offer guidance on ways to pursue legitimate interests with regard to national minorities abroad without straining inter-ethnic or bilateral relations," said the High Commissioner.

The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter-State Relations build on international law and provide representatives of States, national minorities and international organizations with advice on how to address questions concerning national minorities that arise in the context of inter-State relations in a way that protects and promotes the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, prevents conflict, maintains inter-ethnic harmony and strengthens relations between States.

In particular, the document emphasizes that, under international law, kin-States are not allowed to intervene unilaterally or to exercise jurisdiction over citizens of another State without that State's consent, except in limited areas such as education.

"National minorities in inter-State relations are not by definition a source of conflict. On the contrary, minority communities that span State frontiers often serve as a bridge between States. They contribute to prosperity and friendly relations, and foster a culture of pluralism and tolerance, particularly in the border regions," said Vollebaek.

The High Commissioner on National Minorities, created in 1992, is a unique OSCE institution with a mandate to identify and seek early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between OSCE participating States.

Source: OSCE

German Chancellor honors foreigners

German Chancellor honors foreigners

09/10/2008

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she supports the complete integration of foreigners here in Germany.  During a ceremony at the chancellory,  Chancellor Merkel honored the achievements of the guest workers who came to this country starting in the 1950's.  Two hundred representatives of the first generation of guest workers were on hand at the ceremony as was the country's commissioner for integration and immigration issues, Maria Böhmer.

Source: Deutsche Welle (http://www.dw-world.de/dw/function/0,,12215_cid_3684805,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf)

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

08/10/2008

Today the Commission adopted new initiatives to reinforce the EU's comprehensive approach to migration. It includes a Communication on "Strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies", a Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration on "Strengthening actions and tools to meet integration challenges" and a Communication reporting on the application of Directive 2003/86 on the right to family reunification. The proposals presented today build on the principles suggested in the recent Communication on A Common Immigration Policy for Europe and provide the first building blocks for the actions thereof proposed, which should also be taken on board of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, stated that "Migration policy remains high on the European Unions' agenda. The Commission believes that a comprehensive migration policy that incorporates the interests of the Member States, partner countries and the migrants themselves is needed and feasible. On 16 October the European Council will adopt the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. With the three documents presented today, the Commission already puts on the table concrete proposals for the follow-up and thorough implementation. We will make sure to govern migration in a coherent and coordinated way in even closer partnerships with third countries. We will nurture our tools for integration as it becomes an even more crucial aspect of legal migration. And we will ensure the acknowledged right to family reunification of third country nationals is guaranteed in accordance with the Directive from 2003."

The Communication on the Global Approach suggests to strengthen the means of reaching the Union's strategic objectives: to address all migration and asylum issues in a comprehensive and balanced manner, to fully integrate migration into the European Union's other external policies, and to manage the EU's external dimension of the migration policy through genuine partnership with third countries. It suggests both substantive and methodological improvements on how to facilitate legal migration and mobility, how to manage illegal migration, and how to ensure that migration can contribute to development. The way forward is to fine-tune the Global Approach to each region and country; to step up coordination among all stakeholders; to encourage the pooling of resources; and to enhance and upgrade the migration management capacities of both Member States and partner countries.

The Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration, to be held under on 3/4 November in Vichy, comes in response to June 2007 Council Conclusions stressing the need to consider approaches to integration that involve society as a whole. The Report focuses on participation and citizenship; on measures targeting the host society; and on how integration policies may contribute to the prevention of social alienation. It also elaborates on new instruments such as common European modules for integration and common tools for evaluating integration policies. These instruments will contribute to further addressing the integration aspects highlighted by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

The report on family reunification analyses national legislation implementing the Directive 2003/86/EC on the right of legally residing third-country nationals to be joined by their non-EU family members. Therefore this report does not deal with the situation of third-country nationals who are members of the family of a Union citizen regulated in the framework of free movement of EU citizens. It summarises Member States’ transposition of the Directive, identifies possible problems (visa facilitation, granting autonomous residence permits, taking into account the best interest of the child, legal redress and more favourable provisions for the family reunification of refugees, the income requirement and possible integration measures should be mentioned in particular) and gives recommendations on proper application. As a follow-up to this report, the Commission will examine all cases where application problems were identified in order to ensure that the provisions of the present Directive are correctly applied. Moreover it intends to launch soon a wider consultation – in the form of a Green Paper – on the future of the family reunification regime.

Source: EU Rapid Press Release (link)

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

08/10/2008

Today the Commission adopted new initiatives to reinforce the EU's comprehensive approach to migration. It includes a Communication on "Strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies", a Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration on "Strengthening actions and tools to meet integration challenges" and a Communication reporting on the application of Directive 2003/86 on the right to family reunification. The proposals presented today build on the principles suggested in the recent Communication on A Common Immigration Policy for Europe and provide the first building blocks for the actions thereof proposed, which should also be taken on board of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, stated that "Migration policy remains high on the European Unions' agenda. The Commission believes that a comprehensive migration policy that incorporates the interests of the Member States, partner countries and the migrants themselves is needed and feasible. On 16 October the European Council will adopt the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. With the three documents presented today, the Commission already puts on the table concrete proposals for the follow-up and thorough implementation. We will make sure to govern migration in a coherent and coordinated way in even closer partnerships with third countries. We will nurture our tools for integration as it becomes an even more crucial aspect of legal migration. And we will ensure the acknowledged right to family reunification of third country nationals is guaranteed in accordance with the Directive from 2003."

The Communication on the Global Approach suggests to strengthen the means of reaching the Union's strategic objectives: to address all migration and asylum issues in a comprehensive and balanced manner, to fully integrate migration into the European Union's other external policies, and to manage the EU's external dimension of the migration policy through genuine partnership with third countries. It suggests both substantive and methodological improvements on how to facilitate legal migration and mobility, how to manage illegal migration, and how to ensure that migration can contribute to development. The way forward is to fine-tune the Global Approach to each region and country; to step up coordination among all stakeholders; to encourage the pooling of resources; and to enhance and upgrade the migration management capacities of both Member States and partner countries.

The Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration, to be held under on 3/4 November in Vichy, comes in response to June 2007 Council Conclusions stressing the need to consider approaches to integration that involve society as a whole. The Report focuses on participation and citizenship; on measures targeting the host society; and on how integration policies may contribute to the prevention of social alienation. It also elaborates on new instruments such as common European modules for integration and common tools for evaluating integration policies. These instruments will contribute to further addressing the integration aspects highlighted by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

The report on family reunification analyses national legislation implementing the Directive 2003/86/EC on the right of legally residing third-country nationals to be joined by their non-EU family members. Therefore this report does not deal with the situation of third-country nationals who are members of the family of a Union citizen regulated in the framework of free movement of EU citizens. It summarises Member States’ transposition of the Directive, identifies possible problems (visa facilitation, granting autonomous residence permits, taking into account the best interest of the child, legal redress and more favourable provisions for the family reunification of refugees, the income requirement and possible integration measures should be mentioned in particular) and gives recommendations on proper application. As a follow-up to this report, the Commission will examine all cases where application problems were identified in order to ensure that the provisions of the present Directive are correctly applied. Moreover it intends to launch soon a wider consultation – in the form of a Green Paper – on the future of the family reunification regime.

Source: EU Rapid Press Release (link)

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: main results

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: main results

03/10/2008

At the EPSSCO Council held in Luxembourg on 2 October 2008, Xavier Bertrand, the French Minister for Labour, Labour Relations, the Family and Solidarity and chairperson of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, underlined that 2008 should be the year to revive Europe’s social policy.

The main items on the agenda for this Council meeting were a policy debate on the proposal for a Council directive on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment irrespective of religion or convictions, disability, age or sexual orientation, and a progress report on the work aimed at overhauling the European Works Council Directive. This Council meeting was also an opportunity to exchange views on the interim report of the European mission for flexicurity, co-chaired by Vladimir Spidla, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity, and Gérard Larcher, the President of the French Senate.

Firstly, Xavier Bertrand highlighted the problems currently facing European economies. Now more than ever, all Member States have a responsibility to place social cohesion, the protection of citizens, solidarity and the modernisation of the job market, at the heart of their priorities.

He also recalled that, in addition to preparations for the 2009 European elections, advances must be made on a number of other fundamental issues.

At the end of the Council, the Presidency reiterated the following aims:

  • With regard to the Directive on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment, Xavier Bertrand recalled that this text, the legal basis of which was laid down in the Treaty of Amsterdam, represents a chance for Europe to make the specific guarantees long-awaited by citizens, and to make Europe the most accessible continent for all. He emphasised the constructive debates on this proposal which had taken place within the Council and the determination of the French Presidency to achieve the best text as soon as possible, within a spirit of dialogue and listening by all the partners concerned.
  • On the overhaul of the European Works Council Directive, Xavier Bertrand saluted the progress achieved on this text since the start of the summer, notably with the support of European social partners. He specified that the text put forward by the Commission and the proposals jointly presented by the European social partners had provided the Council with a working basis, and should now be used for ongoing discussions within the Council and with the European Parliament. He highlighted that the work accomplished so far would make a rapid adoption of the text possible by the end of the year.
  • Xavier Bertrand felt it important to readdress the work of the European mission for flexicurity, particularly on its contributions in terms of pedagogy and methods for enabling the actors of social reform in the different Member States to take ownership of the common flexicurity principles. He underlined that the participation of the European social partners in the mission was a decisive asset to ensuring a positive outcome, and that the mission’s method could be deployed in the context of the adoption of other common principles in future years, with regard to intergenerational solidarity and active social inclusion for example.
  • Lastly, the Presidency welcomed the Council’s unanimous adoption of a decision to make 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty, a decision that Xavier Bertrand emphasised was not just a question of principle but should be used to advance debate and the positions of the Member States in this area.
    Xavier Bertrand also recalled that the work of the Presidency would continue until the end of the second half of 2008, but that beyond that, within the framework of the trio it formed with the Czech and Swedish Presidencies, the work would be oriented towards a more protective and more practical Europe, a source of progress and achievement for everyone.

The next EPSSCO Council will be held on 15 December next in Brussels.

Source: ue2008.fr