Rita Izsák, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, will present her study of the human rights situation for Romani people worldwide before the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, 15 June 2015. Last year the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution recognizing that Roma have faced widespread discrimination worldwide, in all areas of life, for half a millenium or more.
The resolution expressed concern that Romani people continue to be socially marginalized and that anti-Gypsyism is a major obstacle to their social inclusion. The HRC called on the Special Rapporteur to prepare the study and make specific recommendations in consultation with civil society, national-level human rights institutions and regional institutions, among others.
The 27-page report notes, for example, that Roma groups have been coming to Latin America from Europe since the beginning of European colonization, with recent government data from Brazil reporting a population of more than half a million Roma there. The report notes that negative stereotypes of Roma persist worldwide, with hate speech against them widespread in the media, including social media, which largely goes unchallenged.
The presentation in Geneva on the afternoon of Monday, 15 June can be followed live via video link here.
The report reviews the human rights situation of Roma worldwide, including the protection of their existence, the prevention of violence against them, the promotion of their identity, and the guarantee to them of the right to non-discrimination.All of the information about the study and the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues with respect to Roma can be viewed here.
The Special Rapporteur covers the 193 UN Member States with the mandate to promote the implementation of the UN Declaration on Minorities and to protect minority rights. Ms Izsák was appointed on 1 August 2011 and serves in an individual capacity.
She holds a Masters in Law diploma from the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary. Inspired by her own experiences of prejudice and discrimination - her father's family was forcibly moved from Slovakia to Hungary due to their Hungarian ethnicity in 1947 and her mother is of Romani origin - she has been working on human and minority rights for a decade, beginning at the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center and later becoming a Consultant with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Open Society Institute, the Roma Education Fund, and the Association for Women's Rights in Development.
She completed field missions in Somaliland/Somalia where she worked with the Somaliland National Youth Organization (seconded by the London-based Progressio) and gave human rights lectures at Hargeisa Law University. She then moved to Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to join the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe as a Human Rights Officer.
She was Chief of Staff of the Social Inclusion State Secretariat of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Public Administration and was responsible for several key priorities under Hungary's EU Presidency, including the establishment of the European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. She has also served as the President and Director of the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute.