European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation

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The European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (also ECTR) was established in Paris, France on October 7, 2008 to monitor tolerance in Europe. The Chairman of the Council was former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski (until 2013), and the Co-chairman is President of the European Jewish Congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor.

History and Purpose[edit]

As a tolerance watchdog, the ECTR prepares practical recommendations to governments and international organisations on improving interreligious and interethnic relations on the continent. The Council is one of few international organisations focused on fighting xenophobia, antisemitism and racial discrimination in the modern world.

The ECTR includes such notable political and public figures as:

European Week of Tolerance[edit]

On November 9–16, 2008, the ECTR was among initiators and organisers of a series of events held as part of the European Week of Tolerance on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of die Kristallnacht and International Day for Tolerance.[1] In the course of official events the ECTR presented a draft European Framework Convention on Promoting Tolerance and Combating Intolerance and the Concept for a White Paper on Tolerance to the European Parliament. Both of these innovative conventions have great significance for promoting tolerance in Europe.

The European Week of Tolerance was co-organised by the ECTR, the European Jewish Congress, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Russian Jewish Congress, the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority Yad Vashem.[2]

  1. Special memorial service on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht (Great Synagogue of Europe, Brussels, November 9, 2008)
  2. Special event on promoting tolerance throughout the European Continent (European Parliament, Brussels, November 10, 2008)
  3. Diplomatic dinner and Medal of Tolerance awards ceremony (Brussels, November 10, 2008)
  4. Conference of European Rabbis convention (Prague, November 11, 2008)
  5. Memorial event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht (Kaliningrad, November 16, 2008)[3]

Medal of Tolerance[edit]

In 2008, the ECTR established a European tolerance prize called the Medal of Tolerance. The purpose of the prize is to honour the extraordinary creative achievements of outstanding activists who promote tolerance and reconciliation in Europe, as well as fighting xenophobia and racial and religious discrimination. The Medal of Tolerance may also be awarded to the families of individuals who have lost their lives in the struggle against extremism and intolerance.

The First European Medal of Tolerance was conferred on October 11, 2010 on the King of Spain Juan Carlos I for his lifelong dedication and devotion to the issue of tolerance and political reconciliation. The second and the third European Medals of Tolerance have been conferred on President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic and Ex-President of Serbia Boris Tadic in Brussels, in recognition of the Balkan statesmen’s “significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining Tolerance and Reconciliation on the European continent”.[4]

"Towards Reconciliation"[edit]

The ECTR was one of the initiators and organisers of the international conference "Towards Reconciliation. Experiences, Techniques and Opportunities for Europe" held on October 24–25, 2010, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The gathering brought together current and former heads of European nations to collect European experience in reconciliation, and offer them to the Balkan nations.

The ECTR held a Round Table Meeting in Moscow on October 25, 2011. Russian and international experts discussed issues of paramount importance connected with the current status, aspects and promotion of tolerance in Europe and in Russia. The experts also touched on such topics as the boundaries of tolerance, nuclear tolerance and secure tolerance in order to prevent a clash of civilisations. The ECTR’s initiative to establish a Centre for Tolerance and Security at a leading European university was also discussed at this meeting.[5]

Efforts to pass Statute of Tolerance[edit]

In October 2012 Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor introduced ECTR’s proposals for a general law of tolerance, which was presented at an official ceremony in the presence of European Parliament President Martin Schulz, as well as the two recipients of the European Medal of Tolerance. Expanding on the Model Law for Promotion of Tolerance, a version of which it seeks to make mandatory across all 27 member states, Chair of the Task Force in charge of its inception Yoram Dinstein said that “tolerance is the glue that cements together the bond between distinct groups in a single society”.[6]

On 17 September 2013, a subcommittee of the ECTR, composed of Yoram Dinstein, Ugo Genesio, Rein Müllerson, Daniel Thürer and Rüdiger Wolfrum presented "a European framework national statute for the promotion of tolerance submitted with a view to being enacted by the legislatures of European states"[7] to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament.[8] Section 7 seeks to criminalise hate crimes, incitement to violence, group libel and overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or anti-Semitism, amongst other offences, and details that "juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed" above "will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme designed to instill in them a culture of tolerance."[7] Section 8 states that “the government shall ensure that (a) Schools, from the primary level upwards, will introduce courses encouraging students to accept diversity and promoting a climate of tolerance as regards the qualities and cultures of others.”[7] While Section 9 (a) states: “The government shall ensure that public broadcasting (television and radio) stations will devote a prescribed percentage of their program to promoting a climate of tolerance.”[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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