Committee: Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee (SOCHUM)
Topic: Racism and Xenophobia
Delegate: Courtney Parkhouse
School: Williamston High School
The global issues of racism and xenophobia are two related issues with distinct differences. According to the United Nations, racism is “the belief that there are human groups with particular characteristics that make them superior or inferior to others”, while xenophobia is defined as “a prejudice against all that is foreign”. The issues of racism and xenophobia have always been present throughout history and various societies, and have resulted in systematic forms of discrimination, violence, and, in some instances, genocide. In Denmark, racism and xenophobia have manifested themselves in the form of hate speech and racial violence, particularly toward the Islamic and Semitic communities. In particular, many ethnic minorities have been the victims of hate crimes such as domestic terrorist attacks, especially toward the Jewish community. The issue of racism and xenophobia has contributed to the development of many other issues such as an increase in internal conflicts between Denmark’s majority and minority communities and poor integration for Denmark’s immigrant population.
In the past several years, the Danish government has been a signatory to the UN Human Rights Convention of 1948 and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to help prevent the discrimination of people based on racial and ethnic means. The government of Denmark has also passed anti-discrimination legislation such as Act No. 411 which established the Danish Centre for International Studies and Human Rights, the Act on Equal Treatment and Ethnic Origin which forbids discrimination and harassment on the basis of race and ethnic origin, the Danish Act on Non-Discrimination which prohibits discrimination on any ground such as race, nationality, and ethnic background, and Section 266 B Subsection One of the Criminal Code which allows for sentences of a maximum of two years for discrimination based on race, nationality, and ethnic origin, with the possibility of a greater sentence if the discrimination originated in hate crime. The Danish government has also established the Danish Complaint Committee for Ethnic Equal Treatment to allow the protection of citizens and immigrants from unequal treatment.
Recently, the Danish government has not passed any legislation concerning racial discrimination but still continues to prohibit all forms of prejudice based on race and ethnicity as expressed in Denmark’s past legislation. Even though Denmark prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination, the Danish government encourages the integration of all immigrants and ethnic minorities into Danish society to create a homogenous welfare state and to protect Denmark’s egalitarian and secular values. For this reason, Denmark has tightened its immigration policy to protect those seeking to immigrate to Denmark as it is difficult for the Danish government to provide welfare protection to the increasing amount of individuals seeking to immigrate to Denmark, as well as protect their own citizens. It has also been difficult for the Danish government to successfully integrate the immigrant community already present in Denmark into Danish society. The Danish government does not wish to compromise on immigration policy, but would rather like to protect Denmark’s welfare system and to integrate migrants and refugees that are already in the country.
- Courtney Parkhouse