14 February 2012

Changing Negative Attitudes: Part 1

Last year, I attended a lecture given by Edward Mortimer, the rapporteur for a report prepared by the Group of Eminent Persons entitled "Living Together: Combining Diversity and Freedom in 21st Century Europe." The report found that "discrimination and intolerance are widespread in Europe today, particularly against Roma and immigrants..." (including asylum-seekers). It went on to "identify the main actors able to bring about the necessary changes in public attitudes: educators, mass media, employers and trade unions, civil society, churches and religious groups, celebrities and 'role models', towns and cities, member states, and European and international institutions." It concluded with over 50 proposals for action.

In the refugee context, UNHCR adopted guidelines in 2009 for countering racism, discrimination and xenophobia. (See "Combating Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance through a Strategic Approach.") Consistent with the "Living Together report," the agency acknowledged that "Changing intolerant attitudes is a task too great for one organization to achieve on its own. To successfully combat racism and xenophobia, the guidelines call for the engagement of a broad range of groups such as governments, law officers, UN bodies, non-governmental organizations and the media."

So what can these various actors do to try to change negative attitudes? Here are some recent examples of campaigns, activities and actions that have been undertaken by advocates to raise awareness of and build empathy for refugees/migrants, and to promote the contributions they have made to their host societies.

"Broader-Community Engagement as a Refugee Protection Tool," Refugee Newsletter (Nov. 2011) [text]
- Go to p. 16; discussion of community education strategies for improving public support for refugees.

Communicating against the Grain: Strategies to Counter the Criminalization of Migrants (Canadian Council for Refugees) [info]
- Recently held online workshop that "looks at strategies to counter a narrative that is criminalizing (im)migrants and refugees." CCR members can log in to access resources from the webinar.

Face the Facts (Australian Human Rights Commission, updated 2010) [access]
- "This education resource...reflects the continued demand for accurate and easy to understand information about Indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers."

"Go Back to Where You Came From": Reality TV Encounters the Refugee Crisis (The Conversation, June 2011) [text]
- Discusses Australian reality TV programme that followed six participants as they undertook a refugee journey.

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Rights, Internship Research Report (Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Dec. 2011) [text]
- Reviews the various challenges that arose when the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies embarked on a process to collaborate with pro-refugee advocacy groups, and strategies for addressing those challenges.

Refugee Awareness Project (Refugee Action) [access]
- Former project set up to "to set the record straight about the misleading way in which refugees and asylum seekers were being spoken about in the UK."

Refugee Resettlement to Australia: What Are the Facts? (Parliamentary Library, Dec. 2011) [text]

"Reporting Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK: The Myths and the Facts," Chapter in Human Rights Journalism: Advances in Reporting Distant Humanitarian Interventions (Palgrave Macmillan, Nov. 2011) [info]

World Refugee Week: Teacher’s Pack 2011 - An education resource to help secondary
students understand refugees in Australia (SBS, Amnesty International & the Refugee Council of Australia, 2011) [text]
- "The practical and widely accessible activities are a great way to get students of all ages and backgrounds thinking more clearly and communicating more honestly about the plight of refugees."

Tagged Publications.

No comments: