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MRG’s statement during the dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Minorities Issues on the situation of Roma worldwide

15 June 2015

Speaker: Mr. Glenn Payot

Human Rights Council – 29th Regular Session

Thank you Mr. President,

Minority Rights Group (MRG) would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues for her comprehensive study on the situation of Roma worldwide.

MRG has long been documenting the situation of Roma in many parts of the world, from Western Europe to Iraq, from Russia to Turkey. Wherever Roma live, they are amongst the most marginalized communities.

MRG would like to stress three fundamental points.

Firstly, your comprehensive survey demonstrates the systemic and structural nature of the discrimination Roma people face. Their situation in many places is marked by a vicious circle. Historic stereotypes fuel social stigma, social stigma leads to marginalization, marginalization to exclusion, exclusion to poverty, poverty reinforces the social stigma and so on. These multiple challenges are not elements that can be addressed separately. They are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. As a consequence, and as you rightly stress in your report, it is of the utmost importance that efforts to address the situation of Roma in a given country be designed through an integrated approach, and not through ad hoc responses.

Secondly, MRG cannot stress enough the importance of the participation of Roma themselves in any effort designed at improving their situation. Too often, Roma are excluded from, or involved only marginally in discussions about their situation. MRG firmly believes that Roma, including Roma women, should be fully involved; not only because the right to meaningful participation is a core pillar of minority rights, but also because they are best placed to know and talk about the measures necessary to improve their fate.

Finally, Madam Special Rapporteur, we share your analysis that one of the major challenges that stands in the way of an improvement of the situation is the lack of political will. It is a disappointment to see that some of the states that host largest Roma communities, including sponsors of resolution 26/4, did not respond to the questionnaire and did not deem it important to participate in this study.

I thank you.