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For a European policy on diasporas

Doc. 15250: collection of written amendments | Doc. 15250 | 23/06/2021 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1An increasing number of European States recognise the prominent impact of diaspora communities on European society, and therefore promote their involvement in home policies by developing national policies for engaging diasporas and by adopting governmental strategies to implement these policies.
2Diaspora members make a positive contribution to the development of European countries and of their home countries, including by enriching host countries’ cultural diversity and building dynamic and constructive relations with their countries of origin for the purposes of economic and cultural exchange and co-development. They also facilitate the integration of, and provide support to, newly arrived migrants in terms of their economic, political, legal and cultural interests. Diaspora members also help new arrivals to cope with psychological factors relating to language barriers, loss of usual social networks, legal uncertainty and inequality of access to social welfare.
3Despite this positive impact, diaspora communities are sometimes seen to be manipulated by countries of origin or non-State actors for political or other purposes. They can also find themselves labelled as “dangerous”. Intolerance, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism are constant challenges, which hold them back from making positive contributions to the societies in which they live. These challenges pose an obstacle towards their integration and inclusion in host countries. It is thus important to tackle erroneous perceptions and valorise the advantages that different diasporas bring to our societies.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 3, third sentence, after the word "xenophobia", insert the word:

", Islamophobia"

Explanatory note

Both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism co-exist and threaten societies and diaspora communities. Furthermore, islamophobia is cited in relevant PACE documents together with anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia. Therefore, it is necessary to add "Islamophobia" in this paragraph.

23 June 2021

Tabled by Mr Vladimir KOZHIN, Mr Aleksandr BASHKIN, Ms Vera GANZIA, Mr Maksim KUDRIAVTSEV, Mr Dmitrii VASILENKO

Votes: 103 in favor 0 against 4 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 3, at the end of the fifth sentence, insert the following words:

"as well as to prevent the manifestation of any forms of systemic discrimination against diasporas, including in the virtual space, especially in the context of maintaining relations with the country of origin."

Explanatory note

The Council of Europe member States should officially condemn cases of infringement of the legitimate rights of national minorities. Mechanisms for the rehabilitation of victims of discrimination, as well as procedures for the payment of appropriate compensation should be established at the national and international levels.

4The Parliamentary Assembly reaffirmed its determination to tackle diaspora-related issues in a number of resolutions and recommendations, most recently in its Resolution 1696 (2009) and Recommendation 1890 (2009) “Engaging European Diasporas: the need for governmental and intergovernmental responses” and in Resolution 2043 (2015) “Democratic participation for migrant diasporas”, as well as by setting up a Sub-Committee on diasporas and integration, and the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies which was tasked with making specific recommendations in this area. The conclusions drawn from the activities of the Parliamentary Network underline the urgent need to develop a European strategy on diasporas.
5Therefore, the Assembly encourages member States to take concrete action at national, regional and international levels to promote diaspora engagement policies and create a positive environment for the fulfillment of the potential of diasporas. This should be done by:
5.1collecting and processing data and information concerning nationals living abroad in order to facilitate the development of diaspora-related policies, while respecting data protection;
5.2creating national mechanisms and institutions in charge of diaspora to ensure better co-operation and involvement of diasporas in society. These mechanisms should involve countries’ representations abroad;
5.3drawing up road maps to support the engagement of diaspora networks and associations and organise regular formal and informal meetings with their representatives, including by using the opportunities provided by new information technologies;
5.4signing bilateral agreements supporting the integration process for migrants, which facilitate the study of the language, culture and legal procedures existing in host countries;

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 5.4, insert the following paragraph:

"creating conditions for the access of diaspora to education in their native language;".

Explanatory note

This will contribute to the tasks of supporting and promoting language rights, expanding the cultural space in the countries of diasporas’ residence.

5.5engaging with diaspora community leaders and representatives to detect and prevent incidences of intolerance, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of anti-migrant discrimination and support joint activities promoting mutual respect and social cohesion;
5.6involving diaspora members in policy making, in particular concerning questions of citizenship, as well as those concerning their economic, social and cultural rights;
5.7organising parliamentary hearings on diaspora-related topics to promote the exchange of experiences and good practices;
5.8appointing a special diplomatic counsellor on diaspora and citizens abroad in diplomatic representations, where relevant, empowered to build confidence and engage with diasporas by providing specific services and useful information, as well as targeted co-operation.
6The Assembly underlines the importance of ensuring respect for the political, social, economic and cultural rights of diaspora members, and supporting them to be active and productive members of their communities.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 6, insert the following sentence:

"In this regard, the Assembly emphasizes the need to provide national diasporas with the opportunity to freely develop social and cultural relations with their country and society of origin, as well as to provide them with the opportunity to freely conduct public activities on preserving their ethno-cultural identity, supporting their native language in the country of residence."

Explanatory note

Such a formulation would correspond to the general approaches of the Council of Europe in this area.

7The Assembly is convinced that diaspora policies across member States should focus on promoting the political integration of diaspora communities into their host countries, while also encouraging and facilitating ongoing engagement with their countries of origin. When diaspora communities participate in political processes, they become active members of society, making it harder for extremist and populist groups to turn them into scapegoats, taking advantage of their political exclusion. Member States should adapt legislation, standards and procedures, as far as possible, to enable diaspora communities to exercise their right to democratic participation. Members States should do this by:
7.1ratifying, if not already done, the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local level (ETS No.144) and aligning national electoral laws regarding the participation of diaspora communities with the standards set out in the Convention;

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 7.1.

Explanatory note

This Convention clearly does not reflect the legislative approaches of the majority of the Member States of the Organization. Only 9 of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe have ratified it as at 25 January 2021.

7.2striving to promote political participation and dual citizenship to the extent possible. In this regard, the organisation of multi-stakeholder consultations at national level between diaspora associations, minority groups, business actors, government officials and other relevant actors, should be promoted to inform State policies on political participation and citizenship and disseminate good practice;
7.3simplifying administrative requirements for diaspora members to exercise their right to political participation, in particular by creating diaspora focal points in national electoral commissions;
7.4promoting electronic and postal voting across member States to facilitate the democratic engagement of diaspora members, who would otherwise be required to travel to their countries of origin to vote;
7.5granting to diaspora members the right to elect their representatives to parliament in their countries of origin;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 7.5, after the words "countries of origin", insert the following words:

"in accordance with the electoral legislation of the country of origin"

Explanatory note

For example, in accordance with Russian legislation, compatriots are not only citizens of the Russian Federation living abroad; however, only citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to vote.

7.6supporting diaspora associations in promoting political participation of their community members in host countries, and empowering eligible members of their communities to run for election.
8The Assembly believes that the involvement of diasporas in the economies of countries of origin can help in building strong, successful and cohesive societies. Member States should encourage actions that maximise the positive contributions of diaspora communities in national and local development and poverty reduction strategies in countries of origin, with a focus on supporting investment, entrepreneurship, knowledge transfer, innovation and philanthropy. This should be done by:
8.1involving representatives of diasporas in the preparation of annual development strategies and implementation mechanisms;
8.2creating incentives for returning diaspora members, ensuring that they can benefit from taxation, retirement and other economic advantages;
8.3promoting and fostering diasporas’ entrepreneurship through access to investment information, along with clear customs and import incentives;
8.4facilitating the recognition of diaspora members’ diplomas, education certificates and professional qualifications obtained abroad;
8.5adopting legislation and policies facilitating and regulating remittance transfers, using modern technologies and avoiding double taxation;
8.6supporting the formation of diaspora business networks through trade fairs and business summits, training programmes on international trade regulations and procedures for diaspora-owned businesses;
8.7creating one-stop-shops that target diaspora investors to help them identify opportunities that are in line with the government private sector development policies, and accompany diaspora investors through the necessary administrative procedures, and help to address any complaints and mediate conflicts.
9Recalling Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)1 of the Committee of Ministers to members States on intercultural integration pointing to the value of diversity as a resource for societies, the Assembly underlines that diasporas, representing various cultures and religions, have a pivotal role in helping migrants integrate by acting as a bridge to help newcomers understand the customs, codes and values in the host countries. Local authorities, both from the countries of origin and host countries, have a key role in engaging and co-operating with diaspora members in devising and implementing measures aimed at promoting inclusion, in particular of new migrants, by:
9.1involving diaspora members in local policy debates and decision-making;
9.2engaging diaspora members in local development processes, inter alia, in the field of business, tourism, education, culture;
9.3supporting diaspora initiatives in the organisation of cultural and social events in the spirit of intercultural exchange and co-creation;
9.4establishing and ensuring good operation of cross-border, inter-territorial and city-to-city co-operation and co-development agreements;
9.5holding regular training and information sessions on the political systems of their host country and their right to democratic participation, as electors and potential political candidates;
9.6supporting with information and education the inclusion of diaspora in public sector jobs, including in expert and management positions;
9.7simplifying administrative obligations for diaspora associations, including their registration process, and allocating public space and access to public funding;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 9.7, after "access to public", insert the words:

"and international".

Explanatory note

Access to sufficient resources is key for diaspora communities in order to enable them to reach their full potentials and to be properly beneficial to their host countries. For this reason, access to international funding is also of utmost importance. Therefore, it should be inserted into this paragraph.

9.8developing effective partnerships with diaspora organisations to promote social inclusion and integration of newly arrived migrants in their communities as well as by creating strong connections of mutual respect and trust with host societies.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 9.8, insert the following paragraph:

"supporting policies promoting the study of the language of the host country, as well as the mother tongue of the diaspora."

10The Assembly considers that the creation of strategic partnerships between States, civil society, private sector and international organisations to create a framework for diaspora’s empowerment should be a primary task for the development of a European diaspora policy. Therefore, it encourages member States to provide the necessary support to diaspora associations by:
10.1promoting leadership among diasporas members through the organisation of training and educational programmes which should also enable strong connections between diasporas and host communities;
10.2supporting multi-stakeholder platforms and civil society coalitions, which are essential for:
10.2.1facilitating greater dialogue and consultation between the host society and diaspora associations;
10.2.2co-ordinating technical assistance and capacity-building;
10.2.3allocating special grant programmes for projects promoting links between host society organisations and diaspora associations and encouraging their interaction;
10.2.4promoting social media platforms to connect with diaspora populations, both in countries of origin and host countries, and organising open online platforms for all diaspora-related projects and initiatives;
10.2.5encouraging media coverage of diasporas activities, and promoting a positive image of diaspora, as well as knowledge and understanding of the host society among the diaspora;
10.2.6facilitating better understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity that diaspora and migrant communities bring, through supporting intercultural activities in the fields of sports, music, arts, culinary festivals and other social events.
11The Assembly invites international organisations, in particular the Council of Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to work closely together to develop co-operation programmes involving, inter alia, diaspora associations.

BDraft Recommendation

1Referring to its Resolution … (2021) “For a European policy on diasporas”, the Parliamentary Assembly emphasises the importance of providing support to European States in order to develop effective diaspora engagement policies by creating a European institutional and political framework for co-operation between governments and diasporas.
2The Assembly considers that the Council of Europe could play a major role in formulating a European policy on diasporas, taking into account the work of the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees, and the newly established Steering Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI), and by bringing together the multiple actors that shape national diaspora policies, namely parliaments, governments, diaspora associations, NGOs, media and research institutions. In this context it invites the Committee of Ministers to:
2.1elaborate a White Paper on good practices of diaspora engagement within member States;
2.2design a methodology for mapping diaspora and carrying out an evaluation of diaspora engagement strategies, in the light of Council of Europe standards for integration and inclusion;
2.3establish a European forum of diasporas as a platform for international exchanges between different diaspora communities;
2.4encourage the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities to consider the role of local and regional authorities in engaging and co-operating with diaspora members in devising and implementing measures aimed at promoting integration and avoiding exclusion, xenophobia, radicalisation and extremism.