Developments in Romani Political Participation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

07 May 2002

At a conference entitled "Opening Doors: Strengthening Roma Capacity and Ensuring Access to Government," organised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and held at Vogošća near Sarajevo on November 9-12, 2001, 22 representatives of local Romani organisations developed a National Platform for Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The National Platform addresses the issues of political participation, education, housing, social and health care, and the situation of Romani refugees, displaced persons and returnees. It is envisaged that the National Platform will be transformed into a National Action Plan for Roma, which will include a comprehensive survey of Romani communities carried out by local Romani organisations on issues outlined in the National Platform, from which a policy program for the Romani community will be formulated. The Bosnian Romani activists present at the conference also selected a nine-member representative body, with members of nine Romani associations from throughout Bosnia. This body will serve as a partner for the Bosnia and Herzegovina Romani community with the government in implementing the National Platform and the National Action Plan on Roma. This body was later named the Council of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At a meeting following the conference, on November 12, 2001, Bosnian Romani activists met representatives of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the state Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and several other ministries from Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees committed itself to establishing a National Advisory Board on Romani issues. This advisory board would consist of members of relevant ministries, members of the Council of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and representatives of the international community. The main role of the advisory board would be to take responsibility for the elaboration and implementation of the common co-ordinated strategy. As of April 22, 2002, the advisory board had not yet been established.

(OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina)

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