Joint position paper on United Nations support for Roma inclusion

“The role of the United Nations in advancing Roma inclusion” identifies a number of crucial areas where United Nations (UN) agencies can add significant value to work to achieve Roma inclusion and development.

“Although the UN has already made regular and constructive contributions to Roma-inclusion efforts at the international, national and local levels, the stronger commitment of European institutions to Roma inclusion globally provides the UN with new opportunities to significantly increase the range and scope of its Roma rights and Roma inclusion work at all levels,” said Dr Piroska Östlin, Manager of WHO/Europe’s vulnerability and health programme and its representative on the Roma Regional Working Group.

Improving the Roma’s situation requires developing policies that tackle all aspects of their social exclusion through an integrated antidiscrimination approach, including the areas of employment, housing, education and health.

The paper was produced by the Roma Regional Working Group of the United Nations Development Group working in Europe and central Asia, which was chaired by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and established by the UN regional directors’ team.

UN agencies can support Roma inclusion by, for example:

• supporting countries’ efforts to develop and implement frameworks of antidiscrimination law;

• providing technical expertise and logistical support to countries at multiple government levels for the development of policies for Roma inclusion and the implementation of national strategies;

• helping to accumulate knowledge by collecting data, conducting surveys and other studies, and raising awareness about the Roma’s situation;

• working to tackle multiple discrimination issues facing Romani women and girls and in supporting the work of civil society in this area; and

• finding synergies between UN agencies’ mandates and regional frameworks.

The paper concludes: “At the heart of all UN actions in this field is the commitment to combat discrimination in all its forms and enable the fullest possible participation and contribution of Romani people, women and men, young and adults, to the societies in which they live.”   

The Roma Regional Working Group consists of representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN), the World Bank and WHO.