Political parties have a crucial role to play in countering racism and intolerance, promoting diversity and fostering inclusion. They are the main gatekeepers of elected bodies and largely contribute to shaping the political discourse. In addition, they enjoy a wide autonomy in regulating their internal functioning and the duties of their members.
In 1998, a Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society, drawn up under the auspices of the European Union Consultative Commission on Racism and Xenophobia (predecessor of the Fundamental Rights Agency), was opened for signature in Utrecht. It was endorsed by the Parliamentary Assembly and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and subsequently signed by numerous political parties. Signatory parties committed themselves to reject all forms of racist violence and to strive for fair representation of groups that are victims of racism and intolerance.
Assembly Resolution 2275 (2019) “The role and responsibilities of political leaders in combating hate speech and intolerance” recommended that, in face of rising populism and intolerance, the Charter should be revitalised and updated to reflect this evolution of European societies. Social media, widely used in political communication and at the same time permeated by hate speech, should be part of the focus of the new, revised Charter.
The Assembly’s No Hate Parliamentary Alliance has undertaken specific co-operation with the Anti-discrimination and Racism Intergroup of the European Parliament (ARDI), the ECRI and the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) to define relevant and timely provisions and enhance political support to the forthcoming updated Charter.
After the redrafting process, the Assembly should approve and endorse the new version of the Charter, calling on all political parties to adhere to it and abide by it in their activities.