Politics, law and race: the Netherlands, ‘Black Pete’ and Arts. 8 & 9 ECHR

The arrival of St Nicholas is a major event in the run-up to Christmas in the Netherlands and in October 2013 a United Nations adviser[1] caused a storm of protest when she described Zwarte Piet, (a.k.a. “Black Pete”), the “helper” of St Nicholas, as “a throwback to slavery” and suggested that his depiction should be banned. As a consequence, there was a Facebook “Pietitie” (Pete-ition) defending the custom, which attracted more than two million “likes” in only two days[2] and an assurance from a wrong-footed UNESCO that the Santa Claus traditions in the Netherlands would not be investigated for racism.

Against this background, Continue reading