Ethnic Data: Between Racial Profiling and equal opportunities


Effective minority policy can only be formulated on the basis of
sound information regarding minority populations. Addressing claims
of discrimination also calls for reliable data: for example, the EU
Race Equality Directive expressly permits the use of statistics in
cases concerning ethnic and racial discrimination. The collection of
ethnic data, however, raises the old ghosts of racial profiling and
discrimination. Indeed, ethnic and racial profiling has sometimes
been gathered by State agencies, particularly the police and security
bodies, to single out and exclude members of unpopular minority
groups under various exemption clauses or unofficially, leading to
genuine concerns for personal privacy. However, minorities’
justifiable uneasiness and even fear of State collection of
ethnically-coded data may be manipulated and exploited. Are the
concerns voiced by minority representatives opposed to such data
collection too broadly used to justify the absence of proper data
showing the disadvantages faced by members of vulnerable groups in
different spheres of social, economic, and political life? Do
governments have an obligation to develop appropriate mechanisms of
data collection – including safeguards for personal privacy – even in
the face of objections from minority communities?

EUMAP is seeking articles and opinion pieces on the value of ethnic
statistics, and practices and policies to ensure that such is data is
accurately collected, protected, and used to combat discrimination
and ensure the equality of opportunities of vulnerable minority
groups. We invite papers on the general topic of ethnic statistics,
touching on law and practice at both the international and state
levels, the specific problems across Europe, and how possible abuse
could be mitigated, preventing the personal identification of members
of minorities by State institutions. Quality papers will be featured
on the Program website ( with the intention of framing
and encouraging debate on this issue. Papers should be 1,500-2,000
words. Accepted authors will receive an honorarium of EUR 180.

Papers are invited on the following themes, for submission by 17 March 2003:

– Ethnic data collection: pros and cons. What are the specific
benefits – and inevitable problems – of generating ethnically-coded
data? How to avoid or mitigate the problems, while maximizing the
utility of ethnic statistics in combating ethnic, racial, religious
(as well as gender) discrimination?

– The status of international (including EU) and domestic law and
policies concerning gathering ethnic statistics, and the pool of
“good practices” from countries that effectively manage to use such
data to equalize the opportunities of traditionally disadvantaged

– The role of civil society, including minority non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), in both generating and protecting ethnic data.
What can civil society do as a watchdog of official data collection
policies? And what can it do in using ethnic statistics for
equalizing opportunities for traditionally disadvantaged groups?
– The role of media: can dissemination of statistical information
about disadvantages faced by vulnerable minorities be used to further
fuel hostility towards such groups? Or can media focus on such issues
be an effective tool in both checking the Government’s data
collection policies, and promoting better awareness and tolerance in
the society?

– Is there anything candidate states can learn from their future European
partners – or vice versa – in developing effective and sensitive
mechanisms of generating ethnic data, particularly involving members
of minority groups themselves, without running into problems of the
abuse or misuse of such data?

More at:
Please send papers to: [email protected]

Contact person: Alphia Abdikeeva