Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Hon. Alcee L. Hastings
Chairman - Commission on Security and Cooperation in Euorpe


Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing entitled, “Racism in the 21st Century: Understanding Global Challenges and Implementing Solutions.” This hearing is one in a series we are holding on efforts to combat intolerance in the OSCE region.

An issue near and dear to my own heart was a recent hearing we held on Black Europe, where I was saddened to learn that negative treatment I had experienced in Europe was also a common experience for others. Racism is alive and well not only here in North America, but also in Europe.

And, despite positive initiatives, there are some worrying developments that warrant an increased focus on the issue. This includes efforts to redefine racism, its consequences, who it affects, and whose responsibility it is to address it.

Currently, there is an attempt to shift the debate on racism and xenophobia to one on migration and integration. While migrants are often the targets of violent and non-violent forms of discrimination, a focus solely on migrants negates the reality that many European countries are also diverse, heterogeneous societies, with citizens that differ in race, ethnicity, language, and in other ways. Policies geared towards addressing racism and xenophobia must therefore have the ability to address the experiences of both citizens and non-citizens.

Second, as I recently noted at the OSCE’s May 29 Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on minorities and migrants, increasingly we are receiving reports that minority communities are not being adequately consulted and/or hired as part of the formulation and implementation of anti-racism initiatives, which hurts both credibility and effectiveness.

Third, we must be ever mindful that this is not a new issue. I and our witnesses have been fighting this problem for decades on the domestic and international level. I introduced legislation on the United States recent review before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to highlight some of the international commitments that the U.S. and other nations have made to combat racism.

But the problem remains that the U.S. and other OSCE countries are not adequately implementing domestic or international solutions. A major reason I called this hearing was to discuss solutions to this problem of implementation as well as discuss new developments, such as increased discrimination experienced by migrants.

Thank you for joining us today, Ms. Crickley, Ms. McDougall, and Mr. Payton. I am looking forward to your insightful testimonies and advice on this topic. I would also like to thank my fellow Commissioners for being here, and I will welcome your remarks at this time.

Thank you.