Giving the Floor to Representatives of the Regional Coalitions
UNESCO launched an international coalition of cities against racism and discrimination at the 3rd World Forum on Human Rights in Nantes (France) which takes place from 30 June to 3 July. The agreement on the coalition was signed on 30 June, during the Forum’s opening ceremony, by Pierre Sané, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, and representatives of the 6 regional coalitions of cities against racism and discrimination.
1st Deputy Mayor of the City of Durban (South Africa) – African Coalition of Cities
“The acts of violence towards foreigners of African origin that have taken place in May 2008 in several South-African cities, in particular in Johannesburg, are the consequence of the degradation of living conditions of the most vulnerable groups of citizens. They now have the responsibility for the difficult situation in which they live. Our main challenge is to offer them basic services such as jobs and decent housing. We need to build homes as quickly as possible. In Durban we build 17,000 new apartments every year that are made available without costs to those living in slums.
Pushed down to the very bottom of the social ladder, the black community of the population who is in a miserable and very difficult situation, say that although South Africa has been a democratic country for 14 years now, they still do not see any major impacts on their everyday life. They show impatience which one can understand. Everything is to be done and it is our ambition to do so at the local level.
Even though the laws of Apartheid have been abolished they still exist in different spheres of society. Racist behaviours persist and all forms of discrimination still in exist in such areas as employment, promotion, access to housing and sport and do not reflect the diversity of the South-African society. Therefore, we have initiated measures at the local level in order to change things and reverse the trend. Thus, we have adopted a training programme for professionals enabling them to aspire to positions of responsibility.
Our accession to the International Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination will allow us to put into practice actions in favour of education and training of vulnerable groups of population and to establish monitoring and alert systems.”
Mayor of Casablanca (Morocco) – Leading City of the Coalition of Arab Cities
“We are a coalition of Arab cities which shares the same values, the same language, the same culture and often the same religion. Our societies are confronted to development problems and socio-economic imbalances. Our accession to the International Coalition of Cities will help us to fight against discriminations that, beyond racism and xenophobia, are often related to interpretations which do not take into account the interests of women for instance.
Joining this network is for us a way to latch on to universal values that will encourage mutual understanding and peace between citizens. Arab cities face problems that local authorities and the various actors at this level of government must also deal with.”
Deputy Mayor of Suva (Capital of Fiji Islands) – Coalition of Cities in Asia and the Pacific
“Racism and discriminations are existing issues in Fiji, between islanders themselves and also between islanders and foreigners. Our accession to the International Coalition will enable us to fight against the wind of racism and xenophobia that blows on the archipelago.”
Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board – Coalition of Cities in North America
“We are part of a network that is cooperating with the Canadian Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination. Under the law, in virtually every province of Canada, the municipal police has a civilian oversight body such as a police services board or a commission that is independent of the municipal government. These boards or commissions are composed of local elected representatives and people from civil society. They are in charge of ensuring that the local police act in line with the laws and the public interest.
The police service can loose public confidence and trust if, as an organization, it lacks systemic affirmative and proactive measures to ensure anti-racism, inclusivity and equity in its treatment of people from different backgrounds. For example, young people from the black communities have expressed a lack of confidence in the police and Aboriginal communities have felt that local police did not sufficiently take into account their cultural realities. This has caused several sad incidents.
We have two reasons to believe that in Toronto our action against racism and for the promotion of ethnocultural equality is now bearing fruits. The composition of police has changed significantly in the last 3 years. First, we are working to ensure that our police service reflects the diversity of the population. People from all communities, including “racialized” groups as well as women, are represented at all levels of the hierarchy. As a result, in different communities, we have perceived a growing confidence in the police.
We believe that part of the role of local police is to contribute to a better quality of life for all people. That is why we carry out activities to promote social justice and to strengthen law enforcement and crime prevention.
We believe that these efforts complement the efforts of Municipalities and can reinforce the capacity of the Coalition to meet its objectives.”
> Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination