Transatlantic Minority Leadership Conferences

2011 Transatlantic Conference on Minority Political Leadership

In the context of the 2010 EU-U.S. Summit, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution calling for a dialogue between governments on greater tolerance and respect for diversity. The 2011 Transatlantic Conference on Minority Political Leadership focused on possible aspects of a EU-U.S. equality and inclusion strategy and implications throughout Europe and North America modelled after existing ‘Joint Action Plans’ between the U.S. and Brazil focused on eliminating racial discrimination and inequality. 

The 2011 Transatlantic Conference on Minority Political Leadership was an initiative of the S&D Group, in cooperation with the Congressional US Helsinki Commission. Members of the parliamentary panels and participants called on the US state department and the European Commission to build a Joint Action Plan on racial discrimination and inequality. The S&D group also hosted three US Congressional staffers for an internship in the Group as part of this project.

Video Summary from the Conference:

Program (please click on link below):

Inclusion or revolution? A strategy for the west
By Congressman Alcee L. Hastings

Almost a century ago, W.E.B. Dubois held the first global Pan-African Convention in London to end colonization and racial discrimination ultimately spanning four decades in the pursuit of human rights and equality.

Building upon Dubois’ legacy, I recently co-convened the third meeting of Black and ethnic European and North American legislators and experts to discuss the advancement of rights on both sides of the Atlantic at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels. Minority political participation was viewed as key.

The findings in two words: Underrepresented and Excluded.

Walking Parliament or Congress’ halls only reinforces these findings. Whether counting elected officials or their staff, proportionately our parliaments and governments do not reflect the diversity of our nations (unless one counts the services sector).

There are currently no African-Americans in the U.S. Senate, leaving a Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus to fill the vacuum. Latinos account for less than five percent of Congressional professional staff despite their rising numbers. My colleagues in the European Parliament lament the decline in minority elected officials at the national level and failure to include them in policies impacting their com-munities from anti-terrorism efforts to immigration.

Worse, racial and ethnic minorities here and abroad remain the hardest hit by the economic crisis when it comes to employment and hate crimes and other forms of discrimination are on the rise, with Blacks often targeted due to their high visibility.

Persons of African, Asian, and Roma descent and other ethnicities and religions that look like me and other attendees of the Brussels Conference, such as European Parliamentarians – the UK’s Claude Moraes and Belgium’s Said El Khadraoui, French Parliamentarian George Pau-Lange-vin, Canadian Senator Vivienne Poy, and Croatian City Councilwoman Nura Ismailovski - are needed at the decision-making table to achieve enlightened policies on these issues.

Specifically, we are needed in elected offices to ensure the future of our democracies. As demographics on both sides of the Atlantic change, so do the electorates.

Continued exclusion from governance only reinforces notions that our democracies are a farce and supports change (sometimes violent) outside of established systems. Repeated disturbances in France demonstrate that violence may not be as far from western borders as many would believe.

Brussels meeting participants identified the solution-adopt a transatlantic strategy on diversity and inclusion like existing agreements between the U.S. and Brazil and Colombia. Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretary General Anders Johnsson maintained minority political participation must be a focus and Deputy Secretary General of the European Union’s foreign policy arm Maciej Popowski asserted assist in complying with international human rights norms.

Similar to our governments cooperation on trade and national security, cooperation to advance inclusive democracies that up-hold equality and counter racial and religious discrimination are needed for the long-term stability and prosperity of our nations.

As we celebrate 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent and Roma Inclusion efforts in Europe, I call on you to support adopting a joint strategy that will help enfranchise all minorities in the United States and Europe.

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as a Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Democratic Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

Transatlantic Minority Seminar (June 2010)

Program (please click on link below)