Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, visits Romania, Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, visits Romania
Roma neighbourhood in Ferentari, Bucharest

Strasbourg Declaration: Timeline of change

Local and regional authorities should have a stronger role in plans to lift Roma communities out of poverty and exclusion.

That is the view of the Congress which wants “requisite powers and resources” for local politicians.

“We, as elected representatives, are the closest authorities to our compatriots and are really best placed for devising policies to facilitate Roma access to education, employment, housing and healthcare” said John Warmisham, Congress Rapporteur on Roma/Travellers during the Congress debate on Roma.

The resolution and recommendation adopted by the Congress on 19 October, was timely. Today, the Council of Europe marks the first anniversary of the Strasbourg Declaration.

Last October, the organisation was the central forum for discussion on Roma issues as Europe came together to thrash out a constructive programme of measures which would bring hope to Europe’s largest ethnic minority.

In yesterday’s speech to the Congress, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland confronted the scale of the task and reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to ensure that no citizen is left behind.

“If we allow the current economic circumstances to slow down the social integration of Roma, the consequences would be disastrous, not only for Roma, but for societies as a whole,” he said.

Roma Timeline

October 2010

News : Governments agree Strasbourg Declaration On Roma

The Council of Europe increases budget allocation to Roma issues from €270,000 to €720, 300 in 2011. Voluntary contributions to aid Roma projects increase finances by a further €380,000, with more investment to come from the organisation’s partnership with the European Commission (ROMED Programme).

November 2010

Podcast: The Roma education deficit

A meeting of donors and NGOs in Strasbourg discusses ways of improving the education of Roma children amid concerns that some 40% receive no schooling at all.

December 2010

Podcast : An American View Of Europe’s Integration Of Roma Communities

Human rights activist Gwendolyn Albert provides an unequivocal analysis of Europe’s ‘Romaphobia,’ as Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg writes to Germany’s Interior Minister urging him to “avoid” further ‘forced returns’ to Kosovo.

January 2011

Video: Roma Mediators Training Programme – Day 1

The Council of Europe hosts a meeting of international partners to discuss Roma issues and to build support for its programme to further the inclusion of Roma people, as the training of mediators programme begins.

February 2011

News: Roma are citizens, neighbours and Europeans

“Roma are our neighbours, our fellow citizens and our fellow Europeans,” declares Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma issues, at the Athens launch of the Dosta Campaign.

March 2011

News: Jagland’s challenge to Roma forum

At the annual conference of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland challenges the organisation to be less critical and to adopt a more constructive approach to the development of Roma policies.

Meanwhile, Congress President Keith Whitmore warns against a declaration by some 60 Czech Republic mayors against the “socially inadaptable,” widely considered as an attack on the country’s Roma community.

April 2011

Podcast: International Roma Day

“Get organised and make friends!” was Guardian newspaper journalist Gary Younge’s message to Roma people celebrating international Roma day. Meanwhile, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly issues an urgent call for Roma to be given a stronger voice at local, national and international level.

Congress President Keith Whitmore admits that Europe’s treatment of Roma invites shame. “On a continent which promotes inclusion, we should be ashamed of the situation of Roma,” he declares.

May 2011

Video: Roma mediator programme

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland goes to a ministerial meeting in Istanbul and declares that the organisation is able to respond better and more effectively to the needs of Europe’s Roma communities.

The Roma mediator training programme (ROMED), a key component of the post-October 2010 Roma strategy is now in full swing. In this video portrait, the lives of mediators working on education and health concerns in Roma communities are revealed.

June 2011

News: Hammarberg warns against anti-Roma hate speech

Amid concerns of rising ‘Roma-phobia’ in central Europe, the Commissioner for Human Rights warns that “the consequences of anti-Roma rhetoric by leading politicians should not be underestimated. Their words can be understood as encouraging violent action against the Roma, such as mob violence and pogroms.”

Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland’s Special Representative on Roma issues, backs the European Council’s endorsement of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, which develops a targeted approach for a more effective, 27 country response to the structural exclusion and discrimination of Europe’s biggest minority.

July 2011

News: Finance boost for Roma training project

Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland and EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou sign two funding pacts, which will see the EU make €1 million available to the Council of Europe for 2011 and 2012, to enable the training of 1000 mediators.

August 2011

News: Jagland commemorates Roma ‘Pharrajimos

In his tribute to the Roma victims of the Holocaust, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland calls on Europeans to draw lessons from the past and commit to building a better future for all.

September 2011

Podcast: Roma youth conference – The momentum for change

In a busy month, the European Commission Against racism and Intolerance issues new guidelines to fight anti-Roma discrimination. strasbourg is the venue for a pan-European summit of local and regional representatives on Roma empowerment, which agrees to set up a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma inclusion. The organisation also embraces the next generation of Roma leaders and activists with a summit on the role of young people as the role of young people as “change-multipliers.”

October 2011

News: Congress requests more competences for local and regional authorities.

The organisation’s 21st session closes with a resolution and recommendation which invites governments to consider recognising Roma as a “national minority” in order to ensure their protection under international law, particularly where access to rights at the local level are concerned.

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