Among the major meetings organized every year by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), one of the three Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings (SHDM) was devoted to the Role of National Institutions against Discrimination in combating Racism and Xenophobia with a special focus on Persons belonging to National Minorities and Migrants.
The Meeting examined the role of national institutions against discrimination on combating racism and xenophobia in participating States with special focus on national minorities and migrants. The meeting provided an opportunity to identify gaps in the work of national institutions and also to show examples of good practices.
The Meeting focused on the following three areas:
- the roles and mandates of national institutions against discrimination in combating racism and xenophobia
- overcoming challenges in responding to racism and xenophobia with a special focus on persons belonging to national minorities and migrants
- good practices and effective policy responses in combating racism and xenophobia.
Representatives of the OSCE participating States, OSCE Institutions, and OSCE field operations, representatives of international governmental organizations, representatives of non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors participated in the Meeting.
Civil society representatives were welcome to participate in the Meeting and to take the floor during sessions and to organize side events.
Prior to the Meeting, a Side Event entitled "roundtable for civil society" organized by the ODIHR took place on 29 May 2008 from 9:00 to 13:00. The aim of the roundtable was to enable civil society representatives to prepare recommendations to present at the Meeting. Additional information about the Side Event is available on this website.
The Helsinki Document of 1992 (Chapter IV) called for increasing the openness of OSCE activities and expanding the role of NGOs. In particular, in paragraph (15) of Chapter IV the participating States decided during CSCE meetings to facilitate informal discussion meetings between representatives of participating States and of NGOs, and to provide encouragement to NGOs organizing seminars on CSCE-related issues. In line with this decision, NGOs, governments, and other participants are encouraged to organize side meetings on relevant issues of their choice.