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Roma Dialogue Platform of the Federal Chancellery at the Austrian Ombudsman Board

November 27, 2017

On 24 November 2017, the regular Roma dialogue platform of the Federal Chancellery took place at the Austrian Ombudsman Board for the very first time. Approximately 60 representatives of Roma civil society, of public administration and academia attended the event and took part in the lively discussion.

The Roma make up the largest ethnic minority in the European Union. Nevertheless, a study conducted by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights reveals that many of the approximately ten to twelve million Roma living in Europe are confronted with prejudices, intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion on a daily basis. To fight against this, the European Commission passed the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. Therewith, the member states of the European Union are requested to establish effective integration strategies and measures for the improvement of the situation of Roma in the areas of education, employment, health care and living, tailored to the size and situation of their respective Roma population. The fight against discrimination and the promotion of the social and economic integration of Roma are considered to be key elements.

The European Union sees the key to successful inclusion in the cooperation of authorities with Roma civil society. The member states are therefore requested to promote the active involvement of the Roma civil society in the implementation of national Roma strategies.

For this purpose, the Austrian National Roma Contact Point in the Federal Chancellery created the Roma dialogue platform in 2012. This platform brings representatives of Roma civil society and the authorities of the Federal Government, the Länder, cities and municipalities as well as experts from academia and research together on a regular basis. The aim of the Roma dialogue platform is to enable an open, inclusive dialogue, with the perspective of the Roma taking center stage.

For the first time, the 20th Roma dialogue platform took place at the Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB). Ombudsman Dr. Günther Kräuter and an expert of the AOB first provided the participants with an insight into the work of the AOB. Which tasks does the AOB fulfill? How can the AOB contribute to the protection of human rights of the Roma? Which possibilities of defending oneself against discrimination exist?

The Austrian Ombudsman Board is the human rights house of the Republic of Austria. It has a constitutional mandate to protect and promote compliance with human rights, in which the protection against discrimination is of great importance. The participants of this event gained an insight into typical cases of the investigative activities of the AOB. Furthermore, they were informed of the AOB’s view on room for improvement both in the administration, as well as on the level of legislation concerning the protection against discrimination.

Following this, the experts discussed issues of extracurricular youth welfare work. What are the specific needs and concerns of the Roma youth? Which experiences have been made in the field of youth policy and youth welfare work in Austria, Germany and throughout Europe?