Mr. Pascal LAMY
Rue de la Loi 200 (Char 07/133)
Brussels, 8 November 2001
Dear Mr. Lamy,
We would like to ask your attention for the issue of caste-based discrimination at the upcoming EU-India summit.
We already expressed our concerns on this issue to Commissioner Patten and the Belgian secretary of state Mr Eddy Boutmans before the World Conference Against Racism that took place in Durban, South Africa earlier this year.
During the Second EU-India Summit to be held in New Delhi on 23 November 2001, the European Union has a new opportunity to start a dialogue with the Indian government on caste discrimination. In so doing, it can act upon the Declaration made at the First Summit between India and the European Union on 28 June 2000 in Lisbon. This Declaration mentioned 'the importance of co-ordinating efforts to promote and protect human rights' and vowed that 'we will work towards the universal ratification and implementation of all major international human rights instruments'.
May we also use the occasion to remind you of the EU and member states commitment, outlined in the Commission's policy on Promoting Human Rights and Democratisation in Third Countries (May 2001), to promote human rights in the political dialogue, trade and external assistance, including matching programmes and projects in the field to the commitment. Besides, in its Human Rights Report 2001, the European Parliament called upon the European Union to 'investigate to what extent its policies contribute to the abolition of caste-discrimination and the practice of untouchability in India' and 'to formulate strategies to counter this widespread practice'.
The EU-India Summit is the right time to begin to involve both the Indian government and Indian civil society in a dialogue on how the European Union can best promote and strengthen the progressive implementation of the Indian constitutional provisions, laws and programmes that are meant to eradicate discrimination based on caste in all spheres of Indian life and society. Such a dialogue should be comprehensive in nature but could start with an assessment of the impact of bilateral and/or multilateral development co-operation between the EU and India on the most vulnerable sections of Indian society, i.e. Dalits and Tribals.
Thank you for your consideration and looking forward to your reply,
Was signed by: Bob van den Bos, Kathalijne Buitenweg, Lone Dybkjaer, Michael Gahler, Glenys Kinnock, Jean Lambert, Caroline Lucas, Johanna Maij-Weggen, Maria Martens, Claude Moraes, Francisca Sauquillo Perez del Arco, Helle Thorning-Schmidt
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