A new position at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg: Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić has appointed Director of Communications Daniel Höltgen as Special Representative on Anti-Semitic, Anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes.

«No-one should be targeted for what they believe or do not believe. The fight against discrimination, including on grounds of religion or belief, has been at the core of the Council of Europe’s mission from the outset. We have been always very active in promoting inter-religious dialogue and fostering peace and stability in our Member States», declared the new Special Representative, Daniel Höltgen.

His mandate envisages to raise awareness and visibility by actively communicating the Organisation’s work and the Secretary General’s priorities to governments, relevant international organisations, religious institutions, political leaders, influencers and the general public.

He will also put forward specific proposals to the Secretary General on ways to strengthen Council of Europe assistance and advice to Member States on how to combat anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious hatred and hate crimes in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and other Council of Europe relevant standards.

«In recent years, we have witnessed an alarming increase in “hate crimes” in many parts of Europe, often incited and aggravated by hate speech online and offline. The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 to ensure that human rights are protected. Promoting human rights in Europe was a response to what our Continent witnessed around the Second World War. Seventy-five years later, all forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes are on the rise threatening people and communities and our democracies», highlighted Höltgen.

Last 2020 meeting was organised with the Italian Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Milena Santerini, Professor at the Catholic University of Milan. Ms Santerini was a member of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly from 2013 to 2018 and Rapporteur on combating against racism and intolerance. Given her long standing experience in the field she has been invited to Strasbourg in the near future.

Moreover, seventeen Member States of the Council of Europe decided to establish the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe as an Enlarged Partial Agreement.

The Observatory’s main purpose will be to collect and make available, through a series of regular and thematic reports, factual information on the ways in which history is taught in all participating countries. The main aim will be to facilitate exchange of good practice and mutual learning. It will also serve as a platform for the professional development and networking for European professional associations and institutes active in the field of history teaching.

In the context of rising populism, history education that encourages multi-perspectivity and critical thinking is key to the development of a culture of democracy. By bringing to the fore practices which encourage history teaching in line with Council of Europe values, the Observatory will contribute to strengthening resilience against the manipulation and distortion of history and will help to promote peace and dialogue.


Giuseppe Zaffuto, spokesperson for the Council of Europe in Italy

daniel holtgen

Daniel Höltgen

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