It was announced this week that the U.S. would join the Decade of Roma Inclusion as an official observer. Secretary of State Clinton made this public at a meeting with EU leaders in Bulgaria on Monday. It’s not exactly front-page news (most of you probably didn’t hear about it), but I think it’s an opportunity for folks in the U.S. to become more aware of the plight of the Roma in European countries – and a chance for the U.S. to use some of its considerable weight in making a difference. It might even draw attention to the Roma and Gypsy-lifestyle people here within our own country.
From the Department of State website, here is a brief description of the Decade and its goals:
The “Decade” is an effort by European governments, to improve opportunities for Roma to participate in the political, social, economic, and cultural lives of their communities. Launched in Sofia [Bulgaria] on 2005, it is an unprecedented collaboration between governments, international organizations, and civil society groups committed to closing the gap in welfare and living conditions between Roma and non-Roma populations, as well as putting an end to the cycle of poverty and exclusion that plagues so many European Roma communities. Participating governments are asked to reallocate resources to achieve results, often using additional funding instruments of multinational, international, and bilateral donors.
To us this highlights the fact that help for the Roma people must come from many levels – from the person-to-person level of the kind we’ll engage in, to multi-national efforts like the Decade. You can find a link to the Decade’s website by clicking here, or by clicking on the logo above.
Now in its seventh year, the Decade has received mixed reviews – a good effort that has produced few practical results. Hopefully, the U.S.’s presence in the conversation can help give some momentum to the group as they approach the 10-year mark!
If you want to read more, check out the following links:
- Clinton’s remarks at the meeting and announcement of the US’s involvement.
- A brief article about the announcement and its implications, from a news agency in Sofia, Bulgaria.
- A blog post by the US Department of State regarding the US’s interest in the Decade.
- An opinion piece doubtful of the Decade’s success.