The ERRC sometimes use words which are specialised to human rights, legal work and Romani issues.

We made a list of some of these words with their definitions.


Efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental reforms with the desire to make improvements in society.


Putting off or postponing the proceedings; ending or dismissing any further business by a court, legislature, or public official—either temporarily or permanently.


Any allowable testimonial, documentary, or tangible evidence that may be introduced to a judge or jury.


Activities which aim to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions.

Advocacy Research       

Research that is carried out with the intention of providing evidence and arguments that can be used to support a particular cause or position.

Affirmative action          

Action favouring those who tend to suffer from discrimination; positive discrimination.


The capacity of individuals to express their own needs, feelings, opinions as well as to make their own choices

Actio Popularis

A lawsuit brought by a third party on behalf of many people in the interest of the public as a whole.


The specific form of racism towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers and any group who are stigmatised as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. It is historically constructed and present in discriminatory structures and practices which have a degrading effect, producing disadvantages, segregation and inequality.


An organized course of action against the violation of human rights

Case Law                                           

The law as established by the outcome of former cases.

Cause of action               

A set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue; the cause or reason why a party can make a legal case under the law.


Term used to describe Roma. Amongst most Romani communities this is a highly offensive racial slur. It originates from the Greek word "atsinganoi" meaning "untouchable".

Civil and Political Rights

The class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.

Civil Society       

The community of non-governmental organisations, individuals and institutions which manifest the common interest and will of citizens.


The party who initiates a lawsuit before a court.

Coercive sterilisation    

Carrying out surgical or other procedures which result in a person being unable to have children without them giving informed consent.

Community organising 

The coordination of cooperative efforts and campaigning carried out by local residents to promote the interests of their community.


A body of fundamental principles to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.


The action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.

Disaggregated data       

Information that has been compiled into summaries of data and then broken down in component parts or smaller units of data (e.g. ethnicity, gender, employment). Typically for the purposes of public reporting or statistical analysis


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Environmental Racism

The placement of low-income or minority communities in the proximity of environmentally hazardous or degraded environments, such as toxic waste, pollution and urban decay.

Equality body   

Independent organisations assisting victims of discrimination, monitoring and reporting on discrimination issues, and promoting equality.


Extreme nationalism, the belief in strong autocratic control of the people by a single person or party.


The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

Forced eviction               

The involuntary removal of persons, families and groups from their homes and communities

Forced sterilization        

Carrying out a surgical or other procedure against a person’s will which results in them being unable to have children.

Freedom of Information

Laws that allow access by the general public to data held by national governments


The range of characteristics referring to masculinity and femininity.

Gender equality             

The state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender.


The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.


A movement or organization that uses collective action from the local level to effect change


A term used to describe Roma. Amongst most Romani communities this is an offensive racial slur. It derives from the word "Egyptian" due to the misconception that Roma arriving in Great Britain originated in Egypt.

Hate crime        

A crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.

Hate speech     

Hate speech is described as speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group


The Romani genocide or the Romani Holocaust. Historians estimate that between 300,000 and 1.5 million Roma were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Human dignity 

The idea that a person has the right to be valued and respected, and to be treated ethically.

Human rights   

The moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being", and which are "inherent in all human beings" regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.


The process of putting a decision or plan into effect; execution.


The process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.

Indirect discrimination 

Practices, policies, laws or rules which applies to everyone in the same way, but have a worse effect on some people than others.

Institutional racism        

A form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions.


A process in which all members participate in dialogue to achieve and maintain peaceful social relations. Social integration does not mean forced assimilation.

Internally Displaced Person       

Someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders.


The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Legal Rights                                      

A right that enjoys the recognition and protection of the law.


A law or set of laws suggested by a government and made official by a parliament


An acronym standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and those who identify as queer or are questioning their sexual identity


A published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation


A litigant is a person who is involved in a civil legal case, either because they are making a formal complaint about someone, or because a complaint is being made about them.


Treatment of a person, group, or concept as insignificant or peripheral.


A person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.

Multiple discrimination

Discrimination against one person on the basis of more than one aspect (e.g. being Romani, Muslim and a woman).


A political, social, and economic system characterized by promoting the interests of a particular nation, particularly with the aim of gaining and maintaining self-governance, or full sovereignty, over the group's homeland.

Natural Rights  

Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are universal and inalienable

Negative Rights              

A right not to be subjected to an action of another person or group; negative rights permit or oblige inaction.


Non-governmental organisation. They are usually non-profit organizations independent of governments and international governmental organizations that are active in humanitarian, educational, healthcare, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other areas to effect changes according to their objectives.


Something that doesn't hold someone to a promise.


An official appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against a company or organization, especially a public authority.


View or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.


Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression


A person who brings a case against another in a court of law.

Police profiling 

The practice carried out by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin

Positive discrimination 

Action favouring those who tend to suffer from discrimination; affirmative action.

Positive rights  

A right to be subjected to an action or another person or group; positive rights permit or oblige action.


A principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.


Preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or facts.


The institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge.

Private sector                                  

The part of the national economy that is not under direct state control.

Public Policy                                     

Government policies that affect the whole population

Public sector                                    

The part of an economy that is controlled by the state.


Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. This can be either on an individual level or through systems, institutions and societal structures.


The action of signing or giving formal consent to a treaty, contract, or agreement, making it officially valid.


A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.


Also known as judicial relief or a judicial remedy. It is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes another court order to impose its will.


The action of subduing someone or something by force.


Largest ethnic minority in Europe. Romani people originated in India and migrated to Europe in waves hundreds of years ago.


The action or state of setting someone or something apart from others.


The expression of one's feelings, thoughts, or ideas, especially in writing, art, music, or dance.


A person's sexual orientation or preference.


The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation

Social Justice    

Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

Stateless person            

Someone who is "not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law".


A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Strategic Litigation         

A method that can bring about significant changes in the law, practice or public awareness via taking carefully-selected cases to court. The clients involved in strategic litigation have been victims of human rights abuses that are suffered by many other people.


To illegally trade or deal in human beings, a specific commodity or a service


The action of singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment.

Third Party Intervention             

A procedure to allow a non-party, called intervenor to join ongoing litigation, either as a matter of right or at the discretion of the court, without the permission of the original litigants.


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


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