Global: European Parliament urges the EU to fight caste discrimination
The elected representatives of half a billion Europeans from 28 countries are seriously concerned about caste discrimination. On 10 October the European Parliament will debate and vote on a resolution that urges EU institutions to take action on this important global human rights issue.
The EU must step up its efforts to eliminate caste discrimination, one of the world’s most serious human rights issues that affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe and causes almost unimaginable human suffering.
This is the message from the European Parliament (EP) whose members represent the world’s largest trans-national democratic electorate. Next week, the EP will adopt a strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination, condemning the numerous human rights violations committed against Dalits and other caste-affected groups. The resolution expresses serious concern about social exclusion, poverty, and violence against Dalit women.
The draft resolution calls on EU institutions to recognise and address caste discrimination on par with other grounds of discrimination such as ethnicity, race, religion, gender and sexuality; to include the issue in EU legislation and human rights policies; and to raise it at the highest level with governments of caste-affected countries.
The driving force behind the resolution, the EP’s Committee on Development, has drafted six questions on caste discrimination for the European Commission to answer as part of the debate. These questions refer to a possible comprehensive EU policy on caste discrimination, and how the EU addresses caste discrimination in various contexts, including in development cooperation with affected countries.
The European Parliament’s concern about caste discrimination and its call on EU institutions to address the issue corresponds well with the attitude of the general European population. In an opinion survey conducted in 2011 in seven EU member countries, 67 per cent of the respondents agreed that the European Union should act to eliminate caste discrimination.
No less than 76 per cent believed that the United Nations should take action on the issue. The draft resolution includes a call for the EU to promote the struggle against caste discrimination within the UN system, especially the Human Rights Council. It also calls for a stronger focus on caste-based inequalities in the post-2015 global development agenda.
The upcoming resolution mentions numerous states where caste discrimination exists, including India and its neighbours in South Asia as well as countries in Africa and the Middle East, underlining that this is a global human rights issue.
The resolution text has been well received by human rights campaigners in caste-affected countries: “It encourages the EU to engage with many of the countries in South Asia and Africa where discrimination is prevalent. We support all countries to work together to develop a world free of caste discrimination,” said Paul Divakar, General Secretary of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India.
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