CM/Cong(2011)Rec304 final 18 November 2011
“Meeting the challenge of interfaith and intercultural tensions at local level” –
Recommendation 304 (2011) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
(Reply adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 16 November 2011 at the 1126th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
1. The Committee of Ministers has examined Recommendation 304 (2011) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on “Meeting the challenge of interfaith and intercultural tensions at local level”. It has brought it to the attention of the member states’ governments and has also forwarded it to the relevant committees.1
2. The Committee of Ministers considers that the issue addressed by the Congress is an important one. Social cohesion is largely generated and manifested at local level and is closely bound up with, inter alia, how institutions and societies address the issue of migrants and other vulnerable groups, with a view to ensuring a participative society. The Committee of Ministers agrees with the analysis that recent migration processes, resulting in ethnic, religious and cultural plurality, can bring challenges to social cohesion but can also bring a positive contribution.
3. In this respect, the Committee of Ministers would draw the Congress’s attention to the Council of Europe’s Group of Eminent Persons report “Living together in the 21st century” which, inter alia, considers the responsibilities of local and regional authorities in ensuring that culturally diverse societies are open societies. It also makes a series of proposals for “living together” in European societies, several of which are of relevance to local and regional authorities. This report is currently under consideration by the Committee of Ministers.
4. The Committee of Ministers shares the view of the Congress that improving intergroup relations at local level is key to present and future social cohesion. With regard to para 5.a., it can agree that, whilst taking account of the relevant provisions in national legislation, participation in the local decision-making process on matters which affect legally resident migrants can be an important tool for integration. The Committee of Ministers would signal two Council of Europe instruments of possible relevance in this context, namely the Additional protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government (CETS No. 207) on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority and the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS No. 144). The status and relevance of these texts will be examined in the course of the review which is being prepared by the Secretary General on all Council of Europe conventions.
5. Finally, the Committee of Ministers would recall the work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), in particular its country-by-country monitoring reports addressed to the governments of member states which highlight concerns over manifestations of racism and racial discrimination, inter-ethnic conflicts and religious intolerance, and recommends steps which could be taken by the state to resolve such issues. Recommendations are made in various fields (such as education, employment and housing) to assist states in dealing with an increasingly multicultural society and several of the recommendations set out by the Congress are recommendations which ECRI makes regularly in its country monitoring reports.
1 The European Committee for Social Cohesion (CDCS), the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the European Committee for Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR).