From 30 September to 1 October a two-day online conference was held and organized by UNITED – United for intercultural action. European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities, an European network born in 1993 consisting in more than 500 organizations and associations all over Europe [including the Centro Studi Sereno Regis in Turin] with the aim of fighting all kinds of discrimination and supporting minorities in general.
For years UNITED has been promoting numerous campaigns, it took part in various European projects, organising conferences for activists and volunteers, it has produced publications and constantly has been working at local and European level to build a vision of a more inclusive, intercultural, open and hate-free society.
During the two days of the conference organised in collaboration with the municipality of Oslo this week, many topics were touched upon. Thanks to the contributions of many invited experts, it has been reflected together about the impact of the current pandemic on the most vulnerable groups in the various social realities in Europe.
The fact that people at risk and marginalised groups have experienced this health crisis in a more complex and difficult way than all the others and that the pandemic has widened the gap and social problems even more as they were before, it is now an undeniable fact. We are not all the same and, evidently, we are not all “on the same boat”.
But the pandemic has not only highlighted a situation of extreme vulnerability, already present before and now taken to the limit; it has also allowed unfortunately, too often, a proliferation of discriminatory attitudes: from hate speech to physical violence, as well as discrimination regarding the access to health care and to fundamental rights such as housing and access to a proper information.
On the first day of the conference, thanks to various thematic workshops, an analysis of the current situation of minorities at European level was carried out, reflecting together with the testimonies of the various participating countries: the situation of refugees, refugee camps, discrimination against women and LGBTQI+ groups (Minority Rights Group; No Hate Speech Movement; Queer World Oslo; Youth of European Nationalities) were discussed.
Thanks to an intervention by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), the situation of racialized communities in Europe in the period January-April 2020 has been concretely discussed too, on the basis of a map and a study carried out by ENAR which highlights 191 cases of non-recognition of fundamental rights in the middle of a pandemic (see here).
On the second day of the conference, after the presentation held by the OSCE (OSCE – Organization for security and Co-operation in Europee) of the report published in July on the challenges and possible responses to the global health crisis, it has been discussed about good practices to be shared and followed in order to prevent further situations of social discrimination in the future, especially thanks to the role of young people and the volunteering world, in relation to policy makers and the conscious use of social media.
There are many tools and possibilities, as well as opportunities for comparison and collaboration. As noted in the recent months, there is the ability to respond to a need for help among the civil society, even and especially in times of crisis, and we all have to answer to this call now more than ever.
There are no sure answers to the many questions that have come out in these two days of conference as in the past months, but the good practice sponsored by UNITED is surely to work and stay, once again, “united”.
The next appointment with UNITED will be on 9th November, for a campaign about the day against fascism and anti-semitism. Stay tuned and follow the FB page.
Link to the conference programme: