Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin
Co-Chairman - Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe


Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing on Racism in the 21st century. We are witnessing an increase in hate crimes in Ukraine and Russia and efforts to institutionalize racial profiling in Italy by fingerprinting Roma. The European Union cites continuing discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, education, healthcare, and even sports for a number of minority populations. My statement from the Commission hearing on “Black Europe” further details these problems. These ongoing issues dictate the necessity of this hearing and the implementation of solutions.

Some years ago, Chairman Hastings and I, along with our former chairman, Mr. Smith, and other members of this Commission called for an OSCE response to anti-Semitic violence and other forms of intolerance. I am proud to note that in 2004, the OSCE established three Personal Representatives whose sole purpose is to combat racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination against Muslims, and religious intolerance. I am pleased that Ms. Anastasia Crickley, the Personal Representative on Racism, Xenophobia, and religious intolerance is able to be here with us today.

In 2004, the OSCE also established the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Unit within its Office of Democracy and Human Rights or ODIHR. Since that time, ODIHR has:

• Published 3 annual reports on Hate Crimes in the OSCE region

• held 8 major conferences and meetings on the issue of combating racism and other forms of intolerance

• provided educational, legislative assistance and capacity-building programs to a number of OSCE participating States to combat intolerance

• initiated the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Information System, which provides information on countries’ efforts to combat intolerance and inequality

Despite the efforts of ODIHR and other international organizations, many OSCE countries are failing to meet their international commitments to combat racism and inequality. To date, 15 OSCE countries have failed to provide ODIHR with data on hate crimes and 23 do not have adequate hate crimes laws. 14 countries within the European Union have failed to fully implement the 2000 Racial Equality Directive, which prohibits racial discrimination in employment, education, housing, and other sectors. And there have been numerous shortcomings in our own system.

I hope that today our esteemed witnesses can offer insight on what more we might do to encourage OSCE government compliance with these commitments with the aim of countering inequalities, lessoning intergroup tensions, and upholding the principle of equal rights and self-determination enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

Thank you.