Integrated global approach needed to ease plight of Roma – UN rights expert

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ng forcibly-displaced Roma from south-east Europe. Many have no citizenship which affects their daily lives. Photo: UNHCR/L. Taylor

17 June 2015 – Noting that economic, political and social marginalization of Roma communities remains a major issue, a United Nations human rights expert urged thinking outside the “poverty paradigm” and adopting an integrated approach to address their plight.

“I urge States to place Roma rights at the heart of all strategies and policies related to human and minority rights, social inclusion and development, with explicit targets for Roma communities,” Rita Izsák, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, said yesterday presenting her latest report the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The deeply embedded social and structural discrimination Roma face worldwide, including anti-Gypsyism, Ms. Izsák stressed, is an overarching factor for the marginalization of Roma.

Among other issues, the report highlights the marginalization Roma communities face, underscores the lack of attention to Roma outside Europe, notes the ongoing invisibility of many of these communities such as underrepresentation in decision-making bodies, and condemns media stereotypes against Roma.

While the Special Rapporteur noted some positive developments in her report, these however tended to be short-term, issue-specific projects that fail to addresses Roma communities disadvantage at many levels.

“Creating conditions for the effective participation of Roma in all aspects of the life of the State … should be considered by States as an integral aspect of good governance and a key priority in efforts to ensure equality and non-discrimination,” Ms. Izsák said.

Also suggested in her report are steps to combat discrimination and to guarantee the full enjoyment of the human rights of Roma.

“The media should promote non-stereotypical portrayals of Roma, including through providing greater visibility to Roma self-representation, history and culture,” said the Special Rapporteur, emphasizing the potential that traditional and new media have to promote intercultural dialogue between Roma and non-Roma communities.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Source: United Nations

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