Mainstreaming a minority rights based approach to refugee and migrant communities in Europe

Papers / 11.1.18
Mainstreaming a minority rights based approach to refugee and migrant communities in Europe

The mass influx of vulnerable individuals who differ from the majority population in terms of ethnicity, religion and language has brought to the fore many challenges for European states.

Since 2015, when more than a million asylum-seekers and migrants entered the European Union, there has been a marked increase in xenophobia, intolerance and hate crime, particularly towards those of Muslim origin. This growth of intolerance has also directly affected other minorities, including Jews and Roma, who are facing more and more barriers to exercising their rights as minorities. Public attitudes towards immigration are becoming more and more polarised, with populist parties gaining  influence.

However, focusing on containment and deterrence of migrants, such as building ever higher and longer fences on Europe’s borders, or external detention camps in transit countries such as Libya, not only violates the human rights of migrants, but prevents successful integration and inclusion.

Dr Stephanie Berry, author of report, argues that a minority rights based approach helps to forge cohesive societies. The University of Sussex academic says that although the scale of the current situation and the specific groups of people arriving at Europe’s borders may be new, the challenges facing European states are not; those same challenges have been present for centuries. Dr. Berry suggests that we can build on this experience, and learn to recognise diversity as a strength, rather than a threat.

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The report is jointly developed by Centre Maurits Coppieters and Minority Rights Group International.

This paper and Centre Maurits Coppieters is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the paper nor the opinions of the authors.