Foreword by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Göran Persson
Foreword by the Prime Minister of Sweden
What should not have happened is happening - and it is happening right now. In many countries xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance are again gaining ground. Fears and prejudices are exploited by populist parties and extremist groups. Minorities, refugees, immigrants and homosexuals are being attacked, verbally and physically.
This development poses a serious threat not only to single individuals, but also to democracy - to you and me. It is a threat that must be, and can be, averted. The determination to turn this development around is what motivated the Swedish government to arrange the Stockholm International Forum: Combating Intolerance.
For two days, 29-30 January 2001, governments of more than 50 countries, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNHCHR Mary Robinson, the OSCE Secretary-General Ján Kubiš, representatives of the EU and the Council of Europe together with hundreds of scholars, professionals and journalists from many parts of the world met to discuss and exchange knowledge on how to prevent and counteract prejudice, hatred, political extremism and violence.
The Stockholm Forum focused on four areas, all of crucial importance to the struggle against intolerance: the role of education, the possibilities and limits of legislation, local community strategies and the impact of media.
Looking back at the conference, I would not hesitate to say that it was an extraordinary occasion. It was a strong alert, but also two days of hard work. We closed the conference with concrete results in our hands. A wide-ranging declaration supported by all the participating countries and organisations will now urge us to act - in our own countries and through cross-border co-operation. Seminars and sessions gave important knowledge and fresh insights - insights that are vital to everyone engaged in combating intolerance. It has all been collected on the CD in your hand.
It was also suggested by Professor Irwin Cotler that, as a consequence of the Stockholm Forum, a group of distinguished international lawyers come together to scrutinise how legal or complementary methods can be better used to fight intolerance. I am convinced that all who participated at the conference will join me in supporting this idea.
Most of all the Stockholm Forum inspired hope. So many people from so many nations, with such a strong commitment, so many good ideas and results of work against intolerance will be able to make a difference! In the end of course, it all comes down to you and me. You decide what you want to see or hear, passively accept or actively combat. I hope that this CD will be useful to you as a guide and inspiration.
Prime Minister of Sweden
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