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Gendering the European Parliament

The Politics of Roma Rights in Europe: A Cross-National Multilevel Assessment of the Empowerment Potential for Local Actors

Chloë Delcour
Ghent University
Chloë Delcour
Ghent University
Lesley Hustinx
Ghent University

As disturbingly demonstrated by the many violations of Roma rights across multiple European countries, this paper argues that the ambition of the human rights regime to protect and empower minorities has not been fulfilled. The emphasis on empowerment of local actors in the human rights discourse seems problematic in practice. Although the human rights project envisions empowering minorities in order to build an inclusive society, implicit and explicit exclusive forces are persistently present. Moreover, the participation of local actors is not straightforwardly enhancing human rights, and also on the national level a lot of resistance to inclusion of minorities remains.

To gain a more in-depth understanding of the exact mechanisms at stake, we will conduct a comparative analysis of the impact of human and minority rights on the Roma communities in West-, Central-, and East-European countries by assessing 1) the extent to which different rights are respected/violated since 1990 and 2) which actors are involved at which levels, using secondary sources like reports, news articles, testimonies,... Particularly, the extent to which local actors are allowed, able and willing to be empowered subjects in the implementation process, is examined. In this way, the paper addresses the following research question: ‘To what extent do local actors play a transformative role in the politics of implementing Roma rights in Europe?’ As the human rights regime today strongly emphasizes this role, it is crucial to assess to what extent there is a local empowerment potential for the Roma communities across Europe.
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