MINELRES: European Roma and Traveller Forum

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Mar 23 16:04:52 2005

Original sender: Jud Nirenberg <judson.nirenberg@coe.int>

European Roma and Traveller Forum

What is the Forum?

The Forum is an autonomous body, independent of governments and
inter-governmental organisations. It has a legal Partnership Agreement
with the Council of Europe, which, amongst other things, provides for
the establishment of relations with the various bodies of the Council of
The Forum will co-operate with the Council of Europe, depending on the
case, by participating in the Council's meetings and by providing
consultation and advice on policy and projects which may impact Roma
and/or Travellers. 
The Forum already has observer status at several Council of Europe
institutions. The Partnership Agreement with the Council of Europe also
provides for relations with the Committee of Ministers, Parlementary
Assembly and other bodies.

The Forum will be, at its heart, a body of community leaders and policy
experts who shall be elected by Roma and Traveller institutions across
Europe. This plenary group of representatives may in the future form
sub-committees. A Forum office and professional staff in Strasbourg,
France serves the Forum's plenary group.

The Forum is proud to be inclusive of many ethnic groups, including not
only Roma but also many other communities with which there are

International umbrella groups of Roma and Traveller non-profits have
taken part in the Forum's creation and some will have permanent
representation in the Forum's plenary body.

Why a Forum?

The Forum is intended as an elected body bringing together legitimate
voices of Roma, Sinti and Traveller communities. It is the first such
institution in Europe. This idea, discussed since the early 1990s, took
a more concrete form in 2001, when President Tarja Halonen of Finland,
in an address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
proposed creating a consultative assembly for the Roma on a European
level.  The purpose, in her own words, is to "give a voice to the Roma".

The Forum may establish close and privileged relations with other
international organisations and institutions. The Forum's leadership
believes that it would be very helpful for the Forum to develop similar
relations with the European Commission and the OSCE. Both organisations
have so far shown an interest in the the Forum. Dialogue in the future
with other structures, including various UN bodies, may be undertaken.

Who can take part in the Forum?

The Forum is open to all organizations working for Roma, Sinti, Kale,
Travellers and related groups. NGOs, political parties which have Roma
elected members in Parliament, self-government bodies or even
specialized governmental advisory bodies may all register to
participate. Roma international organizations may also become registered
organizations. To be registered, an organization must fill out an
expression of interest form.One may find more detailed information in
the Forum's statutes and Rules of Procedure.

These rules are temporary and only for the first four year term. During
the first term it is foreseen in the Statute of the Forum  that
organizations registered with the Forum in each country should 
establish a national Roma umbrella organisation dealing, among other
things,  specifily with representation in the European Roma and
Travellers Forum, having responsibility to organise the annual elections
each four year.

The Rules of Procedure were developed in negotiation with
representatives of all European states which take part in the Council of
Europe Committee of Ministers.

To participate in the Forum's structures, an organization must first
fill out a 'questionnaire - expression of interest'. The Executive
Committee of the Forum will review expressions of interest. Once an
organization's registration is accepted, it will have the right to take
part in the national elections of the delegates.

Each organization must first register in order to have the right to
vote. Any federation of NGOs should encourage all its member
organizations to register individually with the Forum so that each may
have a vote.

In  each country, there will be one "member" of the Forum. The member
will be an umbrella association of at least 75% of those organizations
which are registered with the Forum. This national umbrella organization
may hold a meeting to elect delegates and substitutes to the Forum. Each
organization which is registered will be invited to, and have one vote
at this electoral meeting.

The elected person will be called a delegate and will have the right to
vote in the Forum. More information is available in the Rules of
Procedure. Delegates are elected for four years. Depending on the size
of the Roma and Traveller population in a country, there may be more
than one delegate from some countries. See the Rules of Procedure and
attached list of Estimation of Roma and /or Traveller populations in
Council of Europe member states and estimation of seats in ERTF  to know
how many delegates may represent your country's umbrella organization.

Delegates and their substitutes, when elected by the umbrella
organization, must be accredited by the Executive Committee of the
Forum. If an umbrella organization wants to change its delegate, the
Executive Committee should be informed in writing.

The Forum will select one organization per country to be its Partner
Organization. The Partner Organization will invite all the known
(registered) national Roma institutions in that country to a meeting.
All organizations registered with the Forum will be allowed to vote at
this meeting. The elected delegate will have a mandate of four years; at
the end of this time, delegates from that country may only be elected by
a national umbrella organization.

International Roma organizations may also register with the Forum. To be
accepted, international Roma organizations must be registered, must
exist for at least four years, have membership in at least ten
countries, be financially independent of governmental funds and produce
an annual audit report of all activities. Each international Roma
organization, once accepted by the Forum's Executive Committee, can send
three delegates.

Timeframe for the first Plenary Assembly meeting

National  organizations and/or other Roma Traveller, structures
including  international Roma organisations,   must register with the 
?expression of interest? questionaire with the Forum by, at latest
latest May 1, 2005, to take part in the election and sending of

The first general plenary of the Forum will be held in the summer of
2005. Only organisations recognized by the Forum by the end of May 2005
will be able to send delegates to this first session.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum welcomes your organization to
fill out an expression of interest and to become involved in our work.
The delegates to the Forum will have an important task of dialogue with
the Council of Europe and all the European countries which are
represented in its meetings.

For more information about the Forum's aims and its rules, please read
the  Rules of Procedure and the Statute and to contact our Secretariat
with any questions.

Welcome. Learn more and fill out the 'expression of interest'.

Council of Europe
DG III - Social Cohesion
F 67075 Strasbourg

Tel 33 3 9021 5350
Fax 33 3 88 41 27 31

Email: judson.nirenberg@coe.int

>From the MINELRES moderator: The questionnaires mentioned above can be
obtained from the original sender by request.