OSCE calls for comprehensive approach to combating intolerance

A comprehensive approach, including education to promote mutual respect and understanding, is necessary to combat intolerance and discrimination, including hate crime, an OSCE conference in Tirana, Albania has said.

The conference, organized by the Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship, brought together representatives of governments and civil society organizations focusing on issues of tolerance and non-discrimination from the Organization’s 57 participating States and its Partners for Co-operation.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, told the conference that his country is committed to interfaith harmony and tolerance, which he described as the founding values of Albanian society.

“Those who struggle must be prepared for a long and serious fight based on values,” Mr. Berisha said.

The conference paid special attention to the importance of human rights education in addressing intolerance and discrimination, as well as the roles of political leadership, legislation, law enforcement, data collection and civil society.

Yevhen Sulima, the Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Education and Science, reminded the conference that the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination through education is a priority for the Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship.

“In Ljubljana in 2005, all participating States of OSCE committed to encouraging public and private educational programmes that promote tolerance and non-discrimination, and raising public awareness of the existence and unacceptability of intolerance and discrimination,” Mr. Sulima said.

Douglas Wake, the First Deputy Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), spoke of the positive results of the OSCE’s work in this area, while stressing that much remained to be done.

ODIHR is the OSCE institution actively engaged  in the areas of tolerance and non-discrimination.

“No participating State is immune to hate-motivated crimes and incidents. Bias and prejudice exist in one form or another everywhere,” Mr. Wake said. “This means that it is definitely our collective responsibility to prevent and respond to manifestations of intolerance.”

Among the commitments participating States have made are those to combat intolerance and discrimination, including racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and anti-Semitism, as well as discrimination against Muslims, Christians and members of other religions, and Roma.

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