UN Side event on discrimination based on work and descent

UN Side event on discrimination based on work and descent

Since 2019, as a consequence of ERGO Network’s work on the Sustainable Development Goals for Roma inclusion, ERGO Director Gabriela Hrabanova works together with the Global Forum on Discrimination on Work and Descent (GFoD), the Asia Dalit Rights Forum and other global minority organisations to raise awareness of the important topic Discrimination based on Work and Descent (DWD) at the United Nations level and to bring together Roma with other communities victims of DWD.

In the framework of the 2020 United Nations General Assembly, a series of side events took place in New York and online organised by GFoD and with the support of the Permanent Mission of Germany in New York, which attracted the participation of politicians and members of civil society from across the world. Besides ERGO Network Director Gabriela Hrabanova also Member of the European Parliament Romeo Franz (Greens/EFA) was a panelist in the meeting.

This year, due to the pandemic, the Forum took the form of a Round Table with 15 Parliamentarians from countries in Africa (Somalia, Niger, Mauritania), Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Brazil and Europe (Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Belgium).

The discussions focused mostly on the strategies for the caucus of MPs to make appropriate and effective interventions at both UN & Regional Bodies, and with bilateral bodies/processes towards the elimination of DWD globally. An additional topic was the outlining of measures for building up the International Parliamentarians Forum on DWD to operate as an effective platform  at global and regional level.

The participants discussed best practices and possible strategies at local, national, regional and UN level to improve the fight against DWD.

Discrimination based on work and descent affects around 260 million people worldwide. Communities discriminated on work and descent are one of the most excluded and segregated groups globally, and this affects their daily social, economic, political, civil and cultural life. Compared to the majority population in their respective countries, Dalits in South Asia have less access to education, communities of former and modern slavery in Mauretania are economically deprived and Roma in Europe have less access to health care and services.

International cooperation around the topic of DWD has been gaining momentum since 2015, when DWD communities looking for solidarity beyond their own countries and communities found similar discrimination practices among African, European and Latin American communities and founded The Inclusivity Project at international level. But the kick-off for the Forum was a Round Table at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Senegal in New York in 2019. Seven parliamentarians from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka have discussed DWD and options for action with representatives from European Roma networks, the African Network on DWD and Slavery, the Asia Dalit Rights Forum and Quilombola from Brazil.

As a consequence of all endeavours in the last decades the Global Forum on DWD – against Casteism, Antigypsyism & Traditional and contemporary forms of slavery has been formed during the first Congress on DWD in September 2019 in New York with representation by descendants of former slaves, Burakumin, Dalis, Quilomboa, Sinti & Roma.