OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

ERGO Network voices major steps to take to achieve true leadership and participation and to combat antigypsyism at the 2019 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Our Policy and Research Coordinator Jelena Jovanovic recently took part in the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) annual human rights conference: the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM). She read a statement on Roma participation and leadership and presented the work on developing concrete measures to combat antigypsyism, measures the Alliance against Antigypsyism proposes to the EU institutions and EU Member States as well as Candidate Countries.

During the working session ‘Roma and Sinti participation in public and political life’, Jelena Jovanovic spoke about participation as a human right and pointed out that committing to the empowerment of a systematically disempowered group to achieve true participation in various societal and political affairs would play a crucial role in advancing democratic governance, the rule of law and socio-economic development. ERGO Network called upon the OSCE Participating States to develop measures with direct Roma empowerment as an objective, to envision and foster quality participation at all levels and all stages of policy making, to develop national policies addressing Roma participation by positive actions, including in administrative personnel, while being conscious that Roma should not only be part of processes narrowly defined as ‘Roma issues’.

We also urged the Participating States to devise tools and resources for empowering grassroots organisations, to develop indicators to measure the frequency and quality of Roma participation and leadership and to contribute to diversifying Roma participation while embracing an understanding that besides ‘women’s’ and ‘youth issues’, Roma women and youth have diverse expertise and should also occupy high level positions. ERGO strongly emphasised that the same understanding should be applied to other social groups on the intersections of different categories of difference such as sexuality, class, disability, geographical location. Marginalised groups’ representation affects other people in similar positions to get more confidence to voice their needs.

During the side event focusing on “Racism, intolerance and violence against Roma and Sinti in the OSCE area”, we explained challenges with regards to legislation, policy development and concrete interventions. Many civil society organisations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, United Nations and other institutions and organisations highlight the persistent antigypsyism at all levels of European society, despite the efforts undertaken under strategies and action plans for Roma and national legislative frameworks against discrimination and hate crime.

ERGO Network called upon OSCE participating states to take stock of the situation and adopt complementary policy measures to respond to the challenges experienced by Roma in Europe. We suggested specific measures in terms of recognising present and historical responsibility and improving institutional frameworks, collecting data and monitoring antigypsyism and enabling access to justice.

You can read here our statements on participation and leadership and on combating antigypsyism and the ODIHR Third Status Report from 2018 focusing on participation in public and political life.


Civil society united in their demands for the post 2020 EU Roma Strategic Framework

Civil society united in their demands for the post 2020 EU Roma Strategic Framework

Around 40 members of the civil society and other close partners worked hard in September to coordinate and prepare civil society’s input into the ‘Workshop on future policies for Roma’ organised by the European Commission’s DG Justice on 1 October 2019.

We organised two preparation meetings in ERGO Network: one on 16 September, ahead of a DG Justice consultation meeting, and another one on 30 September, ahead of the mentioned 1 October workshop.  We also organised an online meeting and had intensive communication over emails to be well prepared and give our best to put together our priorities in terms of concrete demands for the future EU policies for Roma.

Before the 1 October workshop, the European Commission published three short background papers to provide a basis for discussion. The background papers proposed six different policy options for a future EU Roma Framework:

  • Option 1: “Do less” – no new framework
  • Option 2: “Do the same” – carrying forward the current framework
  • Option 3: “Do differently (1)” – fighting antigypsyism approach
  • Option 4: “Do differently (2)” – Social inclusion approach
  • Option 5: “Do better” – a revised EU Roma Framework
  • Option 6: “Do more” – broadened approach to equality and inclusion

During the meeting on 16 September, we created four working groups, based on topics of the published background papers, expertise and interest of civil society actors and we split the responsibilities to analyse the papers. We were soon ready to present our analysis to other civil society partners during the next civil society meeting in ERGO Network on 30 September.

Our position: Option 7

During the 30 September meeting, after very intense and fruitful discussions, the civil society partners agreed to present an “Option 7” at the European Commission workshop the following day. Option 7 can be seen as a combination of options 3,4 and 6, as it takes a double approach of focusing on social inclusion and combating antigypsyism. It combines mainstreaming of Roma inclusion across policy areas with a stronger monitoring component, asks for ensuring funding and puts emphasis on the importance of Roma participation.

At the 1 October workshop, ERGO Network Director Gabriela Hrabanova opened the civil society statements by presenting our option, and Roma civil society as a whole convinced with taking a very strong and united position, asking for a new Council Recommendation on Roma inclusion and combating antigypsyism. The activists furthermore also advocated for a new focus on so far unaddressed forms of antigypsyism such as environmental injustice.

As a follow-up to the workshop, we are asking for Option 7 to be further developed by the European Commission’s experts. Together with our partners we also continue to pursue other advocacy goals, such as asking the Fundamental Rights Agency to develop indicators to measure Member States’ answers to antigypsyism.

We now need everyone on board to continue lobbying for our demands also within the Member States and aim to create a strong and wide civil society support for an effective Post 2020 Framework both in the EU and in neighbouring countries.

If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with ERGO at g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org.

International Congress on Discrimination based on Work and Descent

International Congress on Discrimination based on Work and Descent tackling Casteism, Antigypsyism, Traditional and Contemporary forms of Slavery and Other Analogous Forms of Discrimination (ICDWD)

21-23 September 2019, New York

From 21 to 23 September, a delegation of Roma activists from ERGO Network took part in the International Congress on Discrimination based on Work and Descent tackling  Casteism, Antigypsyism, Contemporary forms of Slavery and Other Analogous Forms of Discrimination, which was held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The ERGO Network delegation consisted of ERGO Network director Gabriela Hrabanova, Michal Miko (RomanNet, Czech Republic), Isaac Blake (National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups, UK) and Vesa Batalli (Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, Kosovo). The conference was co-hosted by the Asia Dalit Rights Forum, the African Network on Discrimination based on Work, Descent and Contemporary Forms of Slavery, ERGO Network, the Inclusivity Project, Trust Africa and Boston Study Group.

The Conference was preceded by a Parliamentarian’s Roundtable on discrimination based on work and descent, hosted in the Permanent Mission to the UN of Senegal.

Communities discriminated based on Work and Descent (DWD) are some of the most excluded, segregated, and marginalized groups at the global and local levels within their social, economic, political, and cultural systems. The inequalities and disadvantages they experience exist in various services like education, hunger alleviation, health, water and sanitation, employment, voting rights, equal access to land and housing, access to religious institutions in the public sphere, disaster risk reduction and environmental health, some of which are represented in SDGs through definite goals. Gender equality, peace and justice constitute cross-cutting, significant determinants, which must be addressed to mitigate inequalities within the countries.

The Congress adopted the New York Declaration: Global March Forward to Eradicate Discrimination, calling upon the United Nations and States Parties to adopt effective measures towards ending all forms of discrimination based on work & descent, untouchability, antigypsyism, socio-cultural beliefs, and other analogous forms of discrimination including contemporary forms of slavery.

The ERGO delegation furthermore took part in the People’s Assembly organized by the Global Actions against Poverty and the United Nations Civil Society SDG Forum, which aimed to create a space for constructive and propositional dialogue between civil society and UN Member States, international organizations and other related constituencies on the possible responses to the challenges exposed by the first four years of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.