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Interview with Dr Ulrich Maly: "racism endangers peace, security and social cohesion"
in SHS Newsletter 12
For the Mayor of Nuremberg in Germany – Lead City of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism – in challenging the threats of racial discrimination the only recourse is to make universally applicable human rights the guideline of municipal politics by strengthening cooperation among cities at international level, and in mobilizing city dwellers, particularly young people, who will soon hold positions of responsibility in our societies.
Interview with Dr Ulrich Maly: How has the City of Nuremberg, of which you are Lord Mayor, been brought to play the role of “Lead City” in the European Coalition of Cities against Racism?
In the 20th century, racism and discrimination had plunged humanity into the deepest abyss of history. With this terrible period in mind, the United Nations proclaimed their affirmation of basic rights, dignity and worth of all human beings in the UN-Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This affirmation must also be seen in the context of Nuremberg’s history as the “City of the Nazi Party Rallies” and as the venue for the proclamation of the inhumane racial laws which paved the way for the Holocaust. Nuremberg is fully aware of its historical responsibility resulting from its role during the ns regime. The city, therefore, feels particularly committed to the struggle against racism and discrimination and to the protection and promotion of human rights. For this reason, Nuremberg has strongly supported UNESCO’s initiative to create a European Coalition of Cities against Racism and immediately accepted UNESCO’s offer to play the role of a “Lead City” in this network. We are very honoured that UNESCO entrusted us with this important task.

How do you see your role among a coalition of cities as diverse as Sarajevo, Riga, London, Barcelona or Nuremberg?
In the 20th century, a lot of the member cities of the coalition, among them Sarajevo, Riga and Nuremberg, had already experienced the barbarous consequences of racism and discrimination. In the past years, these threats have again increased in Europe. In all European countries, day-to-day racism and racist violence are rife. As major violations of human rights they endanger peace, security and social cohesion in numerous communities. Apart from all the differences between our cities, we are jointly confronted with these threats. We, therefore, need to promote the research into the multiple causes and forms of racism and discrimination on the municipal level, to develop individual strategies for our cities on the basis of UNESCO’s “Ten-Point-Plan of Action against Racism”, to exchange experiences and best-practice-examples, and to intensify our co-operation. As Lead City of the coalition, Nuremberg will do its best to promote and co-ordinate these important activities and to convince as many European municipalities as possible to join the coalition.

The coalition project has been extended to other regions of the world such as Africa, Asia-Pacific, etc. Could you imagine establishing synergies or ties of solidarity with one or several cities of these regions, in order to share good practices or undertake common actions against racism and discrimination?
The municipal level is particularly important to counteract the threat of racism and discrimination: Already today, half of the world’s population lives in urban settlements, in thirty years‘ time it will be two thirds. This is why municipalities play a key role in dealing with the multiple challenges in a globalized world, e.g. increased international migration and accentuated economic competition with its growing pressure on jobs and social security. The city is an area of encounter, cultural diversity, personal development and innovation. But it is also the place where all the contradictions and risks of global developments are manifest. In the urban sphere, problems such as public and private poverty, job insecurity and unemployment, lack of appreciation of cultural differences and religious tension are apparent, causing multiple forms of xenophobia, racism and discrimination. In the face of all these problems, how can people live together in peace and dignity, justice and security? In my opinion, the only recourse is to make universally applicable human rights the guideline of municipal politics. In order to promote this, we need a close co-operation between cities on the international level. In this context and on the background of the common challenges to municipalities in a globalized world, I could well imagine to establish ties of solidarity with cities of the regions which you mentioned, and particularly to exchange good practices and undertake joint actions if possible and useful.

By proposing various indicators of evaluation of the impact of municipal politics, UNESCO intends to encourage an effective and qualitative battle against racism and discrimination. How does your city intend to take advantage of these tools?
In order to counteract racism and discrimination effectively, it is, of course, essential to evaluate the impact of municipal politics. Nuremberg has just begun to implement the “Ten-Point-Plan of Action against Racism”, and we are presently discussing the question how to make use of various indicators proposed by UNESCO. But you can be sure that we will take advantage of these tools.

The conference “Living Together – the European Coalition of Cities against Racism”, which was the first meeting of this network, took place in Nuremberg in September 2005, in context with the 10th anniversary of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. The conference also comprised an international youth forum on racism and discrimination. How do you consider the role of young people as well as the one of European citizens, in general, in the coalition?
The “Ten-Point-Plan of Action” suggests to involve the local population in the municipal activities and to offer opportunities to discuss the problems of racism and discrimination in the city as well as local policies and their impact. I think this is most important. If we want to combat these threats effectively, it is, in my opinion, essential to promote awareness and mobilization among our city dwellers, and particularly among young people as they will soon bear responsibility in our societies. The same arguments are valid with regard to the European level. If we want the coalition to develop successfully and work effectively, we need the support of European citizens on a broad basis. This, however, is only possible if they are involved in the coalition’s activities, so that they can make our goals their own. For this reason, I would suggest that the Steering Committee of the coalition should discuss the question how the participation of European citizens and particularly of the youth could be furthered and organized.

The European coalition already gathers some forty cities. What are the mid-term perspectives of development?
In my opinion, we have three important tasks: Firstly, we should try to enlarge the number of municipalities joining the coalition. The more member cities we have, the stronger and more effective the network is. Secondly, in this context it is important to find a Lead City for each European country in order to promote the coalition and the “Ten-Point-Plan of Action” on the national level. Nuremberg has increased its endeavours to reach this goal. Thirdly, it is essential that the member cities really implement the Action Plan. Otherwise, the coalition will not be able to work effectively. For this reason, Nuremberg is just organizing a workshop with German cities on the question how to implement the Action Plan. We should promote such workshops in other countries. Fourthly, we should try to organize a close co-operation with other city networks and to get support from the European institutions and organisations in order to promote our goals as effectively as possible. With regard to all these points, we need UNESCO’s experience and support. As a UN organisation, highly reputed all over the world, it should continue to play the leading role in the coalition.

Interview by Jun Morohashi

> International Coalition of Cities against Racism

> European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (ECCAR)

Dr. Ulrich Maly, Lord Mayor of the City of Nuremberg (Germany) was born in Nuremberg in 1960. From 1981 to 1987 he studied political economy at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Nuremberg. In 1990 he was awarded his PhD for a thesis on “Economy and the Environment in Municipal Development Policies”. Afterwards he was the secretary of the SPD party group in the City Council, and between 1996 and 2002, he was treasurer of the City of Nuremberg. Since 2002, Dr. Maly has been Lord Mayor of the City of Nuremberg.

Photo: © DR

Click here to read other articles from this issue of SHSviews.
Author(s) UNESCO - Sector for Social and Human Sciences
Periodical Name SHS Newsletter (new name: SHS Views)
Publication date 2006-03
Publisher UNESCO
Publication Location Paris, France
Related Website http://www.unesco.org/shs/views

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