Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Decade of Roma Inclusion?
The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015 is an unprecedented political commitment by European governments to eliminate discrimination against Roma and close the unacceptable gaps between Roma and the rest of society. The Decade focuses on the priority areas of education, employment, health, and housing, and commits governments to take into account the other core issues of poverty, discrimination, and gender mainstreaming. Please find more details here.
2. Who participates in the Decade?
The Decade is an international initiative that brings together governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as Romani civil society. The twelve countries currently taking part in the Decade are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Spain. Norway, Slovenia and the United States have observer status. The international partners organizations are: Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues - OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), Council of Europe (CoE), European Commission (EC), European Network Against Racism (ENAR), European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), European Roma Information Office (ERIO), European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP), International Romani Union (I.R.U.), Open Society Foundations (OSF), Roma Education Fund (REF), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - The UN Refugee Agency, United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank (WB), World Health Organization (WHO).
3. Is the Decade of Roma Inclusion Initiative open to new countries?
The Decade is an international initiative that is open to all countries. Since 2008, three countries joined the Decade as full members and the other three as observer countries. There are ongoing negotiations with other countries to join the Decade.
4. How does the Decade relate to similar initiatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE), and the European Union (EU)?
The OSCE and the Council of Europe were the first international organizations to pay particular attention to Roma inclusion and set up specialized bodies in the 1990s. You can find online more information on the Roma-specific activities of the Council of Europe and of the OSCE.
In 2011, the EU requested all its Member States to step up their efforts of Roma Inclusion within the Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies by 2020. Enlargement countries were also invited to join this initiative. You can find online more information on our EU and Roma part of this website.
The Decade is open to all interested governments and to other partners. It is not limited to any particular region. The Decade offers a forum for Roma civil society organizations to engage actively with governments on Roma related issues; and a forum for governments to report on implementation of their commitments, complemented by the efforts of civil society to critique government implementation.
The Decade works in close cooperation with the CoE, OSCE and the EU, and is working to harmonize its efforts with these partners.
5. What has the Decade achieved?
Decade achievements include:
• enhanced national and European Union commitment to Roma inclusion;
• raised the overall awareness of Roma exclusion;
• pioneered the participation of Roma in policy discussions affecting them;
• spurred the mobilization of new resources for Roma inclusion, including the creation of the Roma Education Fund;
• introduced the concept of regular reporting and monitoring of progress on Roma inclusion through annual government progress reports and civil society monitoring reports.
You can find more on the achievements (and shortcomings) of the Decade in the policy paper To be or not to be: Roma Decade after 2015
6. Who are the Decade National Coordinators and the Civil Society Decade Focal Points? What do they do?
The Decade National Coordinators are high-level government officials who are responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Decade Initiative in their respective countries. They are also responsible for coordinating Roma inclusion processes among relevant stakeholders (including non-governmental and international actors) and are representing their countries in the Decade process, including at the International Steering Committee meetings.
The Civil Society Decade Focal Points organize and finance participation of a Romani civil society delegate at Decade, EU Framework and other relevant Roma inclusion international events; contribute to the international Decade information system; disseminate Decade and EU Framework related information on the national level; support international partners’ work on national level; and conduct national advocacy.
7. What is the Decade Secretariat?
The Decade Secretariat is the technical support unit of the Decade. The Decade Secretariat:
• supports the Decade Presidency in organizing ISC meetings and thematic workshops;
• ensures coordination among the main Decade stakeholders, including governments, international organizations and civil society;
• cooperates with governments that wish to join the Decade and provides support for their accession;
• assists in developing and updating national Decade Action Plans, and facilitates, on request, provision of expert advice and support in the Decade priority areas;
• coordinates and shares information with the European Commission and other international bodies;
• builds a knowledge management system based on national and international experiences, and disseminates annual progress reports and civil society monitoring reports; ensures the flow of information among participating countries; and
• designs and implements communication strategies, linked with other significant initiatives, with the goal of promoting Decade achievements and attracting political and financial support.
The Secretariat is a private foundation, registered in Hungary and based in Budapest.
8. What is the role of the Open Society Foundations and the World Bank in the Decade?
The Open Society Foundations and the World Bank initiated the Decade of Roma Inclusion. After the launch of the Decade, they have become important international partner organizations. The Open Society Foundations provides funding for Secretariat activities, and the World Bank administers the Decade Trust Fund.
9. Is the Decade a mechanism for funding Roma inclusion projects?
The Decade as such does not provide financial support for individual Roma inclusion projects. The existing Decade Trust Fund supports international trainings and workshops on the priority areas of education, employment, housing and health as well as the cross-cutting issues of poverty, discrimination and gender; and the monitoring and evaluation of Decade implementation across the Decade countries. In addition, the decade provides a forum for learning about funding opportunities in discussing funding challenges.
10. What is the Roma Education Fund and how is it linked to the Decade?
The Roma Education Fund (REF) is a charitable foundation created in the framework of the Decade of Roma Inclusion in 2005. Its mission and ultimate goal is to close the gap in educational outcomes between Roma and non-Roma. In order to achieve this goal, the organization supports policies and programs which ensure quality education for Roma, including the desegregation of education systems.
11. How are civil society organizations involved in the Decade?
Full participation and involvement of Romani communities in issues affecting them, including through Romani civil society, is one of the commitments made within the Decade. As enshrined in the Decade’s Terms of Reference, Romani civil society is entitled to participate actively in the Decade process including in decision making, to contribute to effective implementation of the National Decade Action Plans by initiating dialogue between the local authorities and local Romani communities, to communicate the goals and objectives of the Decade to the Romani population, to participate actively and offer its input and expertise in implementation and monitoring of the National Decade Action Plans, and to ensure the participation of Roma to the broadest possible extent in the Decade process. Romani civil society is represented at International Steering Committee meetings and all other Decade related events.
To ensure the active participation of Roma in the Decade - the Decade Secretariat selected –after an open call - national Civil Society Decade Focal Points in 2012.
12. What will happen with the Decade after 2015?
The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 Initiative was formally closed at the 28th International Steering Committee Meeting held on 10-11 September 2015 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat Foundation, the main technical and coordination body of the Decade Initiative, terminated its activities in December 2015.