Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Strasbourg Declaration On Roma

A new European Training Programme for Roma mediators will be established to provide communities with legal and administrative advice.

The programme will train 440 mediators in 2011 and more than 1,000 the following year.

The proposal is a cornerstone of the ‘Strasbourg Declaration On Roma’ which emerged from consultations among government representatives from 47 Council of Europe member states on 20 October.

The member states agreed on guiding principles and priorities to encourage the empowerment, integration and inclusion of Roma people and committed to closer international cooperation to assure progress.

The declaration recognises that many Roma people remain marginalised  in Europe and states that “any effective response to this situation will have to combine social and economic inclusion in society and the effective protection of human rights.  

“The process must be embraced and supported by society as a whole.  A genuine and effective participation of our fellow Europeans of Roma origin is a precondition for success.”

The declaration calls on member states to enforce anti-discrimination legislation, to act against racially motivated crime and to promote the “effective participation of Roma in social, political and civic life.”

Governments should also “effective and equal access to the mainstream educational system, including pre-school education, for Roma children and methods to secure attendance, including, for instance, by making use of school assistants and mediators.”

The declaration demands that member states “put in place effective measures to abolish, where still in use, harmful practices against Roma women’s reproductive rights, primarily forced sterilisation.”

Equally, member states are urged to work with Roma communities to improve children’s and women’s rights and to strengthen gender equality.

The Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland is scheduled to report on the application of the Strasbourg declaration at a ministerial conference in Istanbul next May.

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