Human Rights

Human Rights in Culturally Diverse Societies: Challenges and Perspectives

12-13 November 2008, The Hague (Netherlands)


European societies are becoming increasingly culturally diverse. More than ever, respect for human rights can enable societies to remain cohesive.

This objective was the driving force behind the conference entitled 'Human Rights in Culturally Diverse Societies: Challenges and Perspectives.' Guusje ter Horst, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer- Buquicchio and Eva Smith-Asmussen, Chairperson of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), attended the conference, which builds on the Organisation's White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue, published in May 2008.

Participating experts addressed topical issues: Is freedom of speech unlimited? What should be the relation between the state and religion? How can we ensure the full enjoyment of freedom of assembly by all?

The discussions contributed to the development of human rights policy approaches to better manage Europe 's cultural diversity.

Web Content Display

The Council of Europe has launched two manuals on the wearing of religious symbols in public areas and on hate speech, topics which have caused intense controversy in Europe over recent years. (more...)

  • Manual on the wearing of religious symbols in public areas

The origins of this manual lie in the increasing interest and importance of questions concerning the manner in which the freedom of religion and belief is to be enjoyed in Europe today. Issues concerning religion and belief have arisen in different ways at different times, reacting to the overall social and political context, and the responses to this have differed greatly from one country to another. (more ...)

  • Manual on hate speech

This manual takes from all the texts applicable in this context and from the principles derived from the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, or of other organs, certain parameters enabling expressions which, although sometimes insulting, are fully protected by the right to freedom of expression, to be distinguished from those which do not benefit from such protection. (more [fr] ...)