The tributes commemorating Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela show the almost universal agreement that his cause was among the greatest moral achievements of the last century. We must not forget what Mandela fought for, racial justice and human rights. Here Omar Khan, Runnymede's Head of Policy Research, explores Mandela's approach to racial injustice and how it has affected black people everywhere.
Racism is very much alive in sport, despite it being one of the few remaining public spaces for anti-racism, and new forms of racism are emerging. So said Professor Ben Carrington at a Europe House discussion on racism in sport held last week, in partnership with Runnymede. So, is the debate actually progressing and how can we move forward?
Even football-phobes cannot have failed to notice the recent Euro 2012 tournament (won, predictably, by the pre-eminent Spanish side), and the many programmes and articles highlighting the racist abuse of players by fans. Add this to the recent high-profile cases of (alleged) abuse by players on other players – such as Luis Suarez being banned for abusing Patrice Evra, and John Terry being stripped of the England captaincy while under investigation for abusing Anton Ferdinand – and you can see why racism in sport has been so widely-discussed of late.
Former footballers Paul Elliot CBE and Paul Mortimer spoke at the event, giving affecting accounts of the abuse they received, including from their own fans and teammates. Many see footballers as huge egos, grossly overpaid for playing a kids’ game. Paul Elliot helpfully emphasized that the football pitch is the footballer’s workplace and everybody has the right to work in a place free from discrimination. Racism in sport is about rights.
Today's blog post is written by Kam Gill, research and policy analyst at Runnymede
The announcement on Monday that Rodney King had died aged 47 prompted much comment about the impact the King case had on both race relations and policing in the US. King became arguably the world’s most famous victim of police brutality after three of the officers filmed beating him on the sidewalk were acquitted by an all-white jury, with the fourth being released following a mistrial. The trial sparked widespread rioting across LA, during which more than 50 people were killed.
In the 20 years since the LA riots Rodney King developed a totemic status for those who suffered from police aggression, particularly in the US but also in the UK. Over the same period, policing in the UK has had its own race scandals, most notably the investigation into the death of Stephen Lawrence. Similar to the King Case, the Lawrence murder sparked an inquiry into policing in the UK which allowed Black and minority ethnic communities to air grievances that had festered for decades.
One of the most prominent issues coming to light was stop and search. The massive disparities in the use of this power prompted Lord Macpherson, who led the inquiry into the police response to Lawrence’s murder, to conclude that institutional racism was embedded within the Metropolitan police service. Much like the King case, the Lawrence inquiry was considered to have exposed the facade of post-racial or colour blind policing, allowing the ugly truth to be faced and dealt with.
Today's blog post is written by Kam Gill, research and policy analyst at Runnymede
David Cameron last week launched an(other) attack on the European Court of Human Rights, this time arguing that it consumes itself with cases that are too trivial. Leaving aside the unexplained category of ‘trivial’ human rights, this latest salvo, and previous Conservative objections, caused me to reflect on the concept of human rights, and their potential role for race equality. It seems that this, now often maligned, concept suffers from a lack of clarity of its own. This lies behind much criticism of the idea, the treaty which embodies it, and the court established to uphold that treaty.
The convention on human rights is often condemned as a “criminal’s charter”. The root of this criticism is the claim that the convention, with its insistence upon processes and mechanisms which ensure fair and equal treatment, in some way prioritises the rights of the accused at the cost of the victims of their crimes. Exactly what rights should be granted to these “victims” is often left ill-defined. Presumably it is not the right to inflict arbitrary punishment upon anyone accused of crime, though this sometimes seems to be the implication.
I’ve been thinking about many of the issues that arose out of the UN’s Third Forum on Minority Issues. One question that I keep returning to is why the term ‘minorities’?
In the UK, we’re familiar with the idea that ‘ethnic minorities’ experience a range of disadvantages, and that similar phenomena occur across Europe and in North America. However, one of the examples the conference highlighted – black South African people – made me think twice about whether being a minority is really what we or other organisations fighting discrimination and disadvantage should focus on.
This post was also published on Left Foot Forward
So we’re back to what is becoming an old chestnut; as the latest senior politician condemns multiculturalism. On Saturday, David Cameron took his place, behind Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Trevor Phillips, arguing that “state multiculturalism” has encouraged “different cultures to live separate lives” with a particular Cameron twist – that the UK needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism. Surely, such a panoply of senior politicians should have been able to organize the end of so-called state multiculturalism by now – unless of course it never existed in the first place, they do not really mean it, or the alternatives are simply too unattractive to countenance.
A key problem in debates around multiculturalism is that the term means different things to different people. Some believe that multiculturalism actively promotes separate religious and ethnic identities at the expense of common values, whilst others believe that it simply means the existence and recognition of different identities in a shared political space within a framework of human rights. Runnymede’s understanding of the term has always been the latter.
Download my speech to the Human Rights Council's Forum on Minority Issues in full by clicking on the pink link below.
Click the pink link below to read the draft recommendations from the Human Rights Council's Forum on Minority Issues, which come as an output of the conference.
There is likely to be further focus on access to finance in the final recommendations, as I and a few other contributors in Geneva raised in our presentations.
I arrived in Geneva for the Minority Issues Forum at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In the afternoon session I heard horrific stories and saw brutal photos of minorities in the north of Uganda being tortured. We also heard a women's rights campaigner...
The Home Secretary Theresa May has today announced that a “rapid review” of counter-terrorism and security powers is currently underway.
Following May’s announcement last week that stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 will be immediately scrapped, the following areas will also be reviewed:
- The use of control orders
- The use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography
- The detention of terrorist suspects before charge
- Extending the use of deportations with assurances to remove foreign nationals from the UK “who pose a threat to national security”
- Measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence
- The use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) by local authorities, and access to communications data more generally.
The review will be carried out by the Home Office, with oversight from Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions. Lord Macdonald was made a Liberal Democrat life peer in May this year.
According to the Guardian, home secretary Theresa May has this morning confirmed that the new coalition government is reconsidering whether to scrap the Human Rights Act. However, whilst replacing the act with a British Bill of Rights was a key pledge in the Conservative manifesto, the Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reportedly said this morning that any government would tamper with the act "at its peril". The Lib Dems strongly criticised the Conservative’s stance on this issue during the election campaign.
The coalition is currently in discussions over what to do in this area and it remains to be seen whether this will cause a rift between the two parties. It is expected that the new government’s position will be clarified in a detailed coalition agreement to be published tomorrow.
The new attorney general Dominic Grieve MP argued passionately in favour of a British Bill of Rights in a paper written for Runnymede earlier this year on conservatism and community cohesion. In the paper he stated that such a bill would be important for social cohesion and national unity.
Responding to Grieve’s essay, Labour peer Lord Parekh suggested that there is a danger that a new bill could be “regressive and biased towards the anxieties of the ‘law abiding majority’ and against individuals’ liberties, especially those of immigrants and asylum seekers”.
The Runnymede Blog
The Runnymede Blog is a space for us to explore issues relevant to race and ethnicity.
We also seek to provide updates of race equality-related issues within the Westminster village.
The blog is written by members of the Runnymede staff team or external contributors, where stated.
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