ERRC Publishes Human Rights Guide for Activists
15 December 2004
Budapest: The ERRC today announced publication of "Knowing Your Rights and Fighting for Them: A Guide for Romani Activists". The Guide is a manual summarising the experience, strategies and methods of the ERRC, developed in the course of its first nine years of existence, in undertaking human rights work on racism issues in Europe. It presents, for Romani and other activist audiences, a range of information that might assist individuals in taking action to challenge abusive treatment.
The Roma rights field emerged in the mid-1990s together with the European Roma Rights Center. Nine years after its establishment, the European Roma Rights Center is ready to present, in this Guide, some of the lessons of its impact-oriented work shaping law and practice in Europe.
The primary purpose of the Guide is to offer a strategic tool to the actors of the Romani movement in their day-to-day struggle for equal rights. It aims to introduce grassroots activists to the thinking and the language of human rights. It also provides trainers with a basic workbook to introduce Roma rights activities at the national, regional European and international levels.
The Guide has two sections:
Part A, Thinking About Human Rights, provides a background to the fundamental principles behind universal human rights and links them, through examples and activities, to issues Roma in Europe face. Chapters 1 and 2 outline human rights as universal standards applicable to all, based on our inherent humanity. These chapters give special attention to the right of equality and struggle against discrimination. Chapters 3 and 4 focus more specifically on how rights are enshrined and protected through a variety of instruments and mechanisms at local, national and international levels. The Guide begins with an overview of national institutions and proceeds through those of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union.
Part B of the Guide is called Making Rights Work and focuses on the skills and functions undertaken by activists and non-governmental organisations in human rights work. Chapter 5 describes the meticulous process of human rights research and documentation. Chapters 6 and 7 move on to reporting and advocacy actions in the public interest to inform and stimulate change. Chapter 8 turns to the utility of engaging national and international law through litigation. The final chapter of the manual looks at creating change through direct action by activists and citizens, reflecting on historical movements across the world.
A Glossary and Appendices are provided as references to supplement the information provided and aid the exercises found throughout the Guide.
The Guide grows out of the ERRC's experience with training Roma rights advocates. An essential aspect of these training projects has been their gradual infusion with the feedback coming from Romani activists. The Guide is a first systematic attempt to encapsulate the lessons of that dialogue in order to pass them on to a next generation of the Romani movement.
The Guide is designed to be a free-standing teaching tool, not dependent on the presence of ERRC staff or other human rights trainers. The ERRC believes that this specialised Guide, tailored to reflect the current stage of the struggle for Roma rights, will add value to the existing more or less comprehensive human rights manuals. As the Guide is based on an interactive educational approach, we hope it will be an easy-to-use instrument in a variety of formats, wherever needed, training members of the Romani communities to stand up for their rights.
The Guide was prepared with the generous support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the Government of the United Kingdom. Translations of the Guide into Hungarian, Romani, Romanian, Russian and Serbian were published in 2005. Translation into Turkish language was published in 2006 with the support of the European Commission and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation -- Turkey. Translations in Macedonian and Croatian languages were published with the support of the European Commission.
- English: View it (Acrobat pdf format)!
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- Macedonian: View it (Acrobat pdf format)!
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- Romanian: View it (Acrobat pdf format)!
- Romani: View it (Acrobat pdf format)!
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