Go to Top

Policies on integration and diversity in the OSCE

At its annual session in Edinburgh 2004 the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly called on the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities to “initiate a comparative study of the integration policies of established democracies and analyse the effect on the position of new minorities”. The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities responded by commissioning MPG to prepare the study.

The report compares the integration policies of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. It offers a guide to policy and practice across the seven countries concerned, noting trends and changes, and comparing strengths and weaknesses along the way.

The terms of the Assembly’s request raised two questions about the scope of the report: what are established democracies and what are “new minorities”? As regards established democracies the study adopts a pragmatic approach by focusing on seven States selected on the basis that they all have substantial experience of implementing integration policies, and all have policies which are well documented and accessible to researchers.

The first chapter of the study deals with the changing composition of the population of the seven countries. These countries have diverse populations, and continuing immigration is adding to that diversity. There is a close relationship between integration policy and immigration and immigration policy, and the opening chapter tackles this relationship and its implications. It also looks at the terminology used and demonstrates that the precise definitions of immigrants and minorities vary across the countries studied. The chapter details this and traces potential links between these definitions and “new minorities”. Variations in data collection are also outlined.

The second chapter outlines the role of governments in integration. It describes the function of governments as regulators, facilitators and role models in integration. It goes on to describe the integration infrastructure that exists in the different countries, detailing the agencies responsible for integration policies. This chapter also explains “mainstreaming” which has emerged as a key concept in implementing integration policy.

The third chapter elaborates on equality and anti-discrimination as key principles. It deals with anti-discrimination law as a major instrument to promote equality and with openness and accessibility as instruments to promote inclusion. How anti-discrimination actually works in practice is further dealt with in the chapters on labour market inclusion and access to services.

The fourth chapter addresses political participation. It provides information on the political participation rates of immigrant and minority groups in elections and analyses the representation of these groups in politics. Taking the definition of political participation more widely, this chapter goes on to discuss participation in associations and civil society more broadly.

The fifth chapter looks at economic integration. Governmental and non-governmental actors consistently identify labour market integration as being key to the integration of immigrants and minorities and the chapter describes measures that are taken to bring this about.

The sixth chapter deals with access to services focusing on education, health care and housing. Detailing immigrant and minority disadvantage across these services, the chapter focuses on the policies implemented to try to combat these inequities.

The seventh and final chapter turns to diversity and describes policies that deal with some of the many aspects of cultural and linguistic diversity. This includes measures to support the maintenance of culture and language, of which broadcasting is one example. It also describes policies concerning the maintenance of minority language and culture and programmes promoting intercultural awareness across the population as a whole.