Resolution 16 (1995)1 on "Towards a Tolerant Europe: the contribution of Rroma (Gypsies)"
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
1. Deploring the pogroms, violence, racial hatred and discrimination suffered by many Rroma (Gypsies) throughout Europe, which have led to the death of many of them in recent years;
2. Concerned at an often complacent attitude on the part of local authorities or the police towards these barbaric acts;
3. Regretting the precarious situation and the uncertainty surrounding the nationality of many Rroma (Gypsies), following periods of armed conflict or the dissolution of states;
4. Welcomes the plan of action and the European Youth Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Intolerance implemented by the Council of Europe on the basis of decisions taken at the Vienna Summit (October 1993) and the particular attention accorded to Rroma (Gypsies) in this campaign;
5. Recalling the Hearing of 11 July 1994 organised on the initiative of the CLRAE in conjunction with APPONA on the theme "Towards a tolerant Europe: the Contribution of Gypsies" and the proceedings of the Liptovsky Mikulás colloquy (15-17 October 1992) on "Gypsies in the Locality"2;
6. Pays tribute to the significant work carried out by the Council of Europe for Rroma (Gypsy) communities through texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly3 and by the CLRAE4, while noting that many points made in these resolutions are still outstanding and some of the demands are worth restating;
7. Encourages the local and regional authorities to play their part to the full and shoulder their responsibilities towards Rroma (Gypsy) communities, in particular through the following activities:
i. respect for Rroma’s (Gypsies’) right to their own cultural identity; this entails that any reference to them in public life use a name for them that meets their approval and does not have connotations which they, or people generally, regard as pejorative;
ii. developing the Network of Cities on provision for Rroma (Gypsies) in municipalities in accordance with the principles appearing in the appendix to this Resolution;
iii. supporting meetings between professionals and voluntary workers, Rroma (Gypsies) and all other interested parties, through seminars, hearings and the activities of the CLRAE Network of Cities on provision for Rroma (Gypsies), to foster intensive sharing of experience and know-how and set up a forum where new ideas can be presented, especially for experimenting at local level;
iv. the possibility given to Rroma (Gypsy) communities to effectively exercise their fundamental right to education, having access to high-quality education at all levels, participating fully in the educational process and enjoying respect for their special needs;
v. setting up centres at national level for mediation and dialogue between the authorities and Rroma (Gypsy) communities with the collaboration of recognised and qualified mediators;
vi. implementing a global action programme for Rroma (Gypsies) by drawing up a Solidarity Covenant between Rroma (Gypsies) and local and regional authorities, if possible with the participation of national authorities and European institutions;
vii. offering Rroma (Gypsy) communities the possibility of electing or appointing their representatives democratically, in particular by setting up consultative committees of Rroma (Gypsies) or minorities as a whole, by adopting a similar approach to that of Hungary in the recent municipal elections or applying mutatus mutandis Chapter B of Part I of the Council of Europe Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS 144) of 5 February 1992 ("consultative bodies to represent foreign residents at local level");
viii. encouraging associations representing Rroma (Gypsies) so that they will organise themselves and enter into reciprocal co-operation and co-ordination agreements;
ix. waging a global and coherent battle at every level to end all forms of exclusion and poverty;
x. subscribing to the "Romnews" information service and the "Interface" Review and providing relevant information, including examples of good practices, to be published therein.
8. Undertakes to continue its efforts to ensure better provision for Rroma (Gypsies) in the urban environment by:
i. expanding the Network of Cities, in particular by setting up a network of cities in each member state;
ii. carrying out more detailed studies highlighting sound examples, if possible with partners within and outside the Council of Europe, especially stydies of:
a. structures providing a good level of education for Rroma (Gypsy) communities, while at the same time endeavouring to optimise the multicultural context and encouraging links between schools in areas with different cultures in order to share the experiences of each minority culture;
b. the roots of violence, racism and intolerance directed towards Rroma (Gypsies) together with approaches to combat such phenomena effectively;
iii. organising Hearings, in the near future, with the Network of Cities and other partners, in response to the invitations received from Kosice (Slovakia), Ploiesti (Romania) and Pardubice (Czech Republic). These hearings, to be held between 1995 and 1997, should enable more in-depth consideration to be given to the three following groups of subjects:
a. education, training, employment and culture;
b. human rights, access to justice, police, legal framework, situation as a minority;
c. housing/sites, health, social affairs.
The Network of Cities on provision for Rroma (Gypsies) in municipalities
1. The Network of Cities is a testing ground for good practice and sound examples in relations between local and regional authorities and Rroma (Gypsy) communities to be developed through dialogue and pooling experience. It is a particularly suitable means of helping prevent conflicts and finding solutions to urgent problems.
2. The cities work as a network in the following way:
3. In each country (member state of the Council of Europe or "special guest") one city acts as leader of the network and maintains contact with the Council of Europe. This city will organise contacts with the other member cities of the network. A (national) Network Charter may give a clear definition of the way it operates, as is the case with Pardubice (Czech Republic). The network may include, in addition to cities, NGOs representing Rroma (Gypsies), and institutions (eg universities). Leadership of the network may pass from one city to another if the national network so decides. The CLRAE Working Group may withdraw membership of the network from any city which fails to honour its commitments.
4. Cities commit themselves to a programme lasting a number of years. They will provide the CLRAE with information on their activities and the situation of their Rroma (Gypsy) communities, in particular by using the questionnaire drawn up for this purpose. They will thus seek to define their priority concerns. Cities will be asked to contribute to events organised by or with the co-operation of the Council of Europe.
5. Cities will be the key correspondents for receiving information from the Council of Europe, the CLRAE and other sectors on matters concerning provision for Rroma (Gypsies), minorities and human rights. They shall take every step to maintain close contact with other cities
in their country belonging to the Network in order to inform the Council of Europe of their projects in this field and, in turn, to pass on information they receive. They shall endeavour to pool results of studies carried out and will contribute to the translation and publication of these texts and studies in the languages of their respective countries.
6. Cities will encourage initiatives and activities compatible with the general philosophy of the Council of Europe’s plan of action against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.
7. Finally, cities which are network leaders may, for example, invite other cities to a meeting to discuss a specific issue or take any initiative to improve exchanges within the network. Such initiatives may include, for example, staff exchanges. Cities should appoint as their representative a person who has responsibility for and is actively engaged in this field, if possible accompanied by a partner representing local Rroma (Gypsy) communities.
8. The work of the Network will focus on the following three approaches:
— the social approach, incorporating housing, health and employment;
— the cultural approach, aimed at enhancing Rroma (Gypsy) culture, language and history, and developing education;
— and the "human rights, citizenship and democracy" approach, which can be applied to all minorities and which should be aimed at "inter-community integration". Representatives of Rroma (Gypsies) should be closely involved in devising policies which the city intends to promulgate throughout the network. The work may also be carried out in collaboration with experts.
On this basis, the work of the Network will seek to promote the following 11 activities:
i. Fostering a sense of responsibility among Rroma (Gypsy) communities and encouraging representation in local and regional authorities (rights and duties of Rroma (Gypsy) communities), experience of consultative committees of Rroma (Gypsies) or minorities in general;
ii. Appointing a local mediator with appropriate training: such a mediator should preferably be from the Rroma (Gypsy) community;
iii. Providing education for children, academic training and education in civics, vocational training and premises in which to provide such education and training.
iv. Informing teachers and elected representatives about Rroma (Gypsy) culture and raising their awareness;
v. Training local government and police staff in dealings and contacts with Rroma (Gypsy) minorities;
vi. Making proposals and taking action – in the field of employment, resources and income – to provide Rroma (Gypsies) with the means for a dignified existence and to avoid their becoming long-term unemployed on benefit;
vii. Studying the legal problems facing Rroma (Gypsies), particularly Rroma (Gypsies)’ right of ownership of land and dwellings in the context of land privatisation in eastern Europe and the right to residence, and legal problems arising from a nomadic lifestyle (caravan sites and administrative problems), and submitting proposals for solving them;
viii. Setting up programmes on community relations between Rroma (Gypsy) communities and majority populations and between Rroma (Gypsy) communities and other minorities, awareness-raising among the majority populations (promotion of Rroma (Gypsy) culture, multicultural summer camps etc); such confidence-building measures should lead to an improvement in relations between different groups, enabling them to benefit from the valuable assets of their diversity rather than resorting to confrontation;
ix. Drawing up a programme to combat discrimination, delinquency and violence: Rroma (Gypsy) communities as victims and/or perpetrators, in conjunction with local authorities and the police;
x. Putting forward proposals regarding the role of the media and the Rroma’s (Gypsies’) image;
xi. Defining the contribution of the Rroma (Gypsies), as European citizens, towards a tolerant and multicultural Europe.