Anti-Racism Map: Mapping Anti-Racism Plans in Germany

In ENAR’s Evaluation of the National Action Plan against Racism (NAPAR), Germany scored 18/20 points. While the country has made significant strides forward in implementing national anti-racism policies, two key areas must be strengthened to ensure successful implementation. The collected discrimination data should be disaggregated by race and ethnicity, while the civil society coalition advocating for NAPAR could benefit from a more structured and transparent functioning.


1. NAPAR Adoption+++4/4
2. Addressing Systemic and Intersectional Racism++3/3
3. Equality Data Collection++3/4
4. Institutional Participatory Mechanisms++3/3
5. Resource Allocation++3/3
6. Civil Society Coalition+2/3
Total Score18/20

Explanations and Sources

The assessment is based on independent research carried out for the European Network Against Racism by Dr. Sanja Bilic. Below are the explanations and sources that support these assessments.

1. NAPAR Adoption

In Germany, a clear policy document was formally adopted by the government and Parliament and made public. Adopted in 2017 and extended in 2018, current NAPAR promotes civic education, diversity in working life, and engagement in civil society. There will be another version of NAPAR in the future, which the minister Reem Alabali-Radovan and her team are currently working on.

Contextual Background: The ‘Deutscher Sonderweg’ (German Special Way)

The evolution of Germany’s history and relationship with the term race is often referred to as the Deutscher Sonderweg. This term gained prominence after the Second World War as a mechanism to explain the atrocities committed under the Third Reich and the Nazi regime. Nationalists and conservative historians have used the idea of a German “special way” and exceptionalism to frame the horrors of the Holocaust as a singular, and ‘exceptional’ event in German history and with the view that after the war, racism was addressed and “relegated to the annals of history.”

The exceptionalism narrative undermines the discourse on race and racism in Germany by treating race as a taboo term and subject and fostering a reluctance to acknowledge, name or address structural racism today. As a result, anti-racism in Germany takes an anti-racialist view in modern discourse that rejects race based on its biological claims, without acknowledging its social and political dimensions that produce racism.

Emilia Roig, the director of The Center for Intersectional Justice in Berlin, stated that the intersectional approach to addressing Germany’s racism involves “combating discrimination in a more holistic way.” “Nevertheless,” she continues, “I think that there’s still such a profound misunderstanding of what racism is or what discrimination is, and that it continues to be understood as an individual phenomenon as opposed to a structural systemic historical phenomenon.”

2. Intersectional Approach

German action plan against racism includes a sophisticated definition of structural, historical and institutional racism, including the process of racialisation and intersecting oppressions. The policies tackle structural rather than merely individual forms of racism, focusing on key policy areas such as AI, migration and/or law enforcement.

Structural racism is defined as:

“Institutional racism refers to forms of discrimination, exclusion or disparagement that emanate from a society’s institution, such as the police, public authorities or schools. It is not rooted in the prejudices or derogatory attitudes of the acting individuals. Rather, it is the interpretation or application of rules, regulations, norms, routines or ingrained practices that lead to the direct or indirect discrimination of certain population groups. Institutional racism is usually harder to identify than individual-level forms such as racist slurs or assaults and calls for other approaches to fighting it.

By contrast, structural racism cannot be traced down to individual institutions. Instead, it is about historically and socially evolved power relations that are deeply rooted in a society’s structures, discourses or imagery. Such structures can also prevent certain population groups such as those with a migrant background or people of colour from being represented in key policy-making, administrative or economic positions proportionately to their share in the overall population.”

In addition, the National Action Plan Against Racism states that:

  • “The Senate is also stepping up its efforts to reduce individual and structural discrimination as part of a comprehensive strategy.”
  • “Racism can also be manifested in racist remarks, direct or indirect discrimination (inequality), racially-motivated crime and acts of violence or institutional or structural forms of marginalisation.”
  • “Racism and LGBTIQ* issues should be addressed jointly wherever it is expedient to do so. Specific anti-discrimination needs should be taken into account in a targeted and intersectional way, focusing on special vulnerabilities.”

The Action Plan also defines intersectionality and sets out the government’s plan to address intersectional manifestations of discrimination:

  • “Not only are people discriminated against because of their actual or supposed affiliation to a certain group, they are also exposed to various forms of group-related discrimination. Multiple discrimination is defined as intersectionality, i.e. the different forms of discrimination are inextricably linked with each other. The extent and impact of discrimination may vary depending on the ground of discrimination. Intersectionality focuses on the way different forms of discrimination interact and requires considering the diversity of affiliations and the related social conditions. This means that intersectionality is more than just the sum of various forms of discrimination.”
  • “The federal programme is currently supporting 26 pilot projects in the field of “racism and racist discrimination”, strengthening the capacity of institutions and educational establishments, but also of individuals to deal with racist discrimination and raising awareness of racism as a social problem and its effects on those concerned. The programme is aimed at forms of direct, indirect and intersectional discrimination as well as the current challenges posed by the refugee situation. “

3. Equality Data Collection

Equality data on discrimination and racial inequalities is collected, but not disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

Equality data is collected but it is not disaggregated yet. Some data is collected by the Government (Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency) whilst some by government-funded organisations such as The National Discrimination and Racism Monitor (NaDiRa). However, a need for more nuanced, disaggregated data collection has been recognized by the government, and a number of initiatives have been put in place in the past 3 years. Germany is moving forward on allowing the collection of data disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

In 2020, the German Bundestag decided on a nationwide discrimination and racism monitoring (NaDiRa), for which DeZIM was commissioned. The aim is to lay the foundation for a permanent monitoring of racism in Germany. The NaDiRa is to make reliable statements about the causes, extent, and consequences of racism in order to be able to develop measures against racism on this basis. For this purpose, a civil society monitoring process is planned, in which particularly communities affected by racism shall participate:

  • Conducted by Civil Society organizations and sponsored by the German government (the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency), one such project was Afrocensus in 2020. For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic, in 2020, a large-scale sociological study on Black people living in Germany, inquiring about employment, housing, and health. Comprehensive data from around 6,000 black, African and Afro-diasporic people was put together and disaggregated (to an extent).
  • Citizens for Europe do lots of pioneering work, discussing why data collecting is so difficult in Germany and the absence of equality data on race.

In the aftermath of the racist terror attacks in Halle and Hanau the Cabinet Committee on Combating Right-Wing Extremism and Racism, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) decided to further expand the existing competence canters and networks and to develop racism specific civil society led monitoring (Under no. 65). In the course of this decision:

  • CLAIM has been commissioned in October 2021 to establish a nationwide monitoring structure to record anti-Muslim incidents and discrimination.
  • In the field of antigypsism, MIA has received the grant to establish a nationwide monitoring structure to record antigypsism and anti-Roma racism.
  • The competence network of and for People of African Descent has received the funding to establish a monitoring-structure for documenting anti-black racism.

4. Institutional Participatory Mechanisms

There is a permanent participatory structure, with clear terms of reference and regular meetings. Civil society representatives, including from racialised groups, are involved in decision-making processes related to policy design, implementation, and monitoring.

NAPAR states that “The Federal Government directly supports civil-society projects and structures that play an active part in fighting racism, discrimination and inequality” and that “The Federal Government knows that dynamic socio-political processes demonstrate the need for further consultations and discussions with civil society. It will therefore continue the dialogue with civil society.”

The federal program ‘Live Democracy!‘ is a central component of extremism prevention and democracy promotion. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has been using this program since 2015 to promote civil society’s commitment to diverse and democratic coexistence and work against radicalization and polarization in society and as a part of of the federal government’s strategy for preventing extremism and promoting democracy; through the interaction of state and civil society.

There are clear terms of reference; there are representatives from different groups. According to the Live Democracy website: There are currently 51 non-governmental organizations that have proven expertise in their respective subject areas and are cooperating in 14 competence networks and centers . They are important contacts for civil society, administration and for the projects within and outside of the federal program “Live Democracy!”. The competence centers and networks hold specialist events, develop qualification offers, act as specialist advice centers and provide information, work aids and other materials nationwide.

The federal government also supports civil society actors under the umbrella of the Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance – Against Extremism and Violence (BfDT), numerous associations, groups and projects are networked nationwide. Counseling, exchange of experiences and public attention strengthen their work. The BfDT is linked to the Federal Central Office for Civic Education and benefits from its expertise.

5. Resource Allocation

There is a detailed, realistic and adopted budget that is accessible to the public and clearly earmarked to implement anti-racism policy. The budget contains significant staff costs, including resourcing an independent monitoring mechanism.

The current government has assigned Reem Alabali-Radovan in 2022 as the first federal government commissioner on antiracism, she oversees NAPAR. Most recently the first report Racism in Germany was published by her office:

She is also working on Centre for Anti-racist Policies. In terms of project funds, “to combat racism and group-related enmity, the Commissioner is funding model projects with 8 million euros in 2022. For example, political education projects that provide information about the various forms of racism, group-related enmity and discrimination are supported. In other projects, victims are to learn strategies for dealing with racism and discrimination. Support is also provided for measures to help migrant organisations defend themselves against racism and right-wing extremism.”

In the 2023 federal budget, 10 million euros have been earmarked for the measures. Project sponsored will include the Association of Counseling centers for those affected by right-wing, racist, and anti-Semitic violence (VBRG), the Turkish community in Germany, the umbrella organization of the Migrant organizations in East Germany (DaMOst), the German football.

6. Civil Society Coalition Advocating for NAPAR

A coalition of CSOs representing several racialised groups (even if not all) operates, yet its functioning is not structured and transparent. However, it is totally independent from the government and actively advocating together.

  • The Anti-Discrimination Association Germany (ADVD) is an umbrella organisation of independent anti-discrimination counselling centres.
  • On “Live Democracy” there are 51 non-governmental organizations with expertise in their respective subject areas, cooperating in 14 competence networks and centers to help with NAPAR.

The research was carried out by Dr Sanja Bilic in March 2023.


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