Roma, Sinti & Travellers - Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Information System - OSCE ODIHR
Roma, Sinti & Travellers
Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting
2008 Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting: Sustainable Policies for Roma and Sinti Integration, Vienna, 10-11 July 2008

Among the major meetings organized every year by the OSCE, one of the three Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings (SHDM) was devoted to Sustainable Policies for Roma and Sinti Integration.

The two-day meeting focused on sustainable integration policies at the local level. There were three sessions during the meeting:

  • the role and responsibility of regional and local authorities to assist in integrating Roma and Sinti;
  • good practices and major challenges in improving the situation of Roma and Sinti at local level: examples from municipalities;
  • policies to facilitate equal access of Roma and Sinti to public services, in particular social services and education.

The first session examined the role and responsibility of regional and local authorities to assist in integrating Roma and Sinti. Discussions focused on the mandates of local authorities and how these translate into practical implementation of Roma-related policies. Emphasis was placed on examining how regional and local authorities address the challenges faced by their local Roma and Sinti communities, within the national relevant frameworks, and assessed if key stakeholders, including community and Roma and Sinti representatives, are actively involved.

The second session looked at good practices and some of the major obstacles for improving the situation of Roma and Sinti at the local level. Examples were drawn from municipalities. Lessons learned were shared, as well as good practices and challenges that had been encountered by local authorities. Emphasis was placed on identifying areas that need to be addressed by local authorities. In addition, actions of and measures taken by large municipalities with Roma and Sinti in addressing emerging developments in the following areas were explored: access to quality education, security of tenure and residence, and ensuring the right to benefit of public services that may assist with addressing issues of unemployment and economic hardship.

The last session looked at policies to facilitate access of Roma and Sinti to public services. Selected areas of integration which are of particular relevance for Roma and Sinti were analysed. These include education, housing, residential security, civil registration and access to public services. Discussion from the perspective of Roma and Sinti towards integration strategies at the local level was encouraged throughout this session.

Representatives of the OSCE participating States, OSCE Institutions, and OSCE field operations, representatives of international governmental organizations, representatives of non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors participated in the Meeting.

Civil society participation

Civil society representatives were welcome to participate in the Meeting and to take the floor during sessions and to organize side events.

Prior to the Meeting, a Side Event entitled "roundtable for civil society" organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) took place on 10 July 2008 from 9:00 to 12:00. The aim of the roundtable was to enable civil society representatives to prepare recommendations to present at the Meeting. Additional information about the Side Event is available on this website.

Background information

The Helsinki Document of 1992 (Chapter IV) called for increasing the openness of OSCE activities and expanding the role of NGOs. In particular, in paragraph (15) of Chapter IV the participating States decided during CSCE meetings to facilitate informal discussion meetings between representatives of participating States and of NGOs, and to provide encouragement to NGOs organizing seminars on CSCE-related issues. In line with this decision, NGOs, governments, and other participants are encouraged to organize side meetings on relevant issues of their choice.

The Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area (Maastricht MC Decision, No. 3/03) calls on OSCE participating States to actively seek the involvement of Roma and Sinti in designing policies and strategies that have a direct impact on them. This also involves the participation of Roma and Sinti NGOs and those non-Roma NGOs working with Roma and Sinti communities. Recommendations from civil society on improving the design and implementation of Roma-related strategies at the national, regional and local level are therefore encouraged at human dimension events.

Key documents
Action plan on improving the situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE area
27 November 2003
The Action Plan is intended to reinforce the efforts of the participating States and relevant OSCE institutions and structures aimed at ensuring that Roma and Sinti people are able to play a full and equal part in our societies, and at eradicating discrimination against them.