strategy

Reducing ethnic discrimination

Synonyms:
Reducing dependence on racial discrimination
Eliminating racial harassment
Description:
Discrimination and racial harassment take the form of threats, of physical violence and verbal harassment. Often however, it can be much more subtle. Anti-discrimination work deals with all these different forms.
Context:
There is a fundamental difference between racism and racial discrimination as an institutionalized governmental policy, such as apartheid, or resulting from official doctrines of racial superiority or exclusivity, and other manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance taking place in segments of many societies. The latter form tends to be disguised or camouflaged by a proclamation of theoretical equality for all communities and social sectors of different geographical and cultural origin. Notably as a result of the latter, millions of human beings continue to be the victim of the varied forms of racial discrimination.
Implementation:
The United Nations proclaimed in 1983 the [Second Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination]. Consideration has been given to the proclamation of a [Third Decade]. The UN coordinates activities by various UN bodies and specialized agencies for the purpose of implementing the [Programme of Action] for the Decade. UNESCO carries out research on prejudice and racism and undertakes activities aimed at combating them.

Instead of using the word "Gypsy", the use of Rom (Roma in plural), Romany, or the double "r" spelling, is nowadays preferred in official communications and legal documents. In response to the recommendations put forth by Roma associations, the Council of Europe has approved the use of Rroma or Gypsies in its official documents (CLRAE Recommendation 11 - June 1995). The trend is to eliminate the use of derogatory, pejorative and offensive names, such as Gypsies, and to be given proper respect by the use of the self-appellation of Roma, or Rroma.

Claim:
The effective promotion and protection of human rights require concerted efforts to eliminate racial discrimination and racism and to strengthen mutual tolerance between groups and individuals.

States should consider, if they have not already done so, adopting legislation which declares discrimination illegal. Such legislation must be enforced by the judicial and the executive branches. This is important, not least because law and its enforcement are powerful tools of education. Model legislation against racial discrimination, which has been prepared recently by the United Nations, may also be a useful tool in this connection.

Counter Claim:
Use of names that are free from ill connotations is a rather poor remedy for the Gypsy-related issues. What is needed is an attitude change of all parties concerned, reachable by open debate, high-quality studies and good will. Change of name alone is useless, because without solving the underlying questions the new word simply receives the same old meaning. This can be well documented by an example from both the Slovak and the Czech Republics. After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, the terms Roma and Romany (Romovia, romsky) were promoted as a replacement for the old term Gypsies and Gypsy (Cigani, cigansky). This was a nation-wide campaign reaching all public places and media and the new terms became well rooted in the people's everyday vocabulary. However, already after one decade, during which no particular qualitative change took place in Gypsies' lives, it was evident that the words Roma and Romany adopted the very same pejorative connotation as the former Gypsy words. (This can be compared to a similar, now completely forgotten, attempt in the history, when Empress Maria Theresia ruled that Gypsies be renamed into New-farmers in the 18th century.) Besides, many Gypsy tribes have never called themselves Roma (such as the Romanichal, Gitanos, Kalé, Sinti, Manush, and others) and use this word to refer to other tribes. In other words, all Roma are Gypsies, but not all Gypsies are Roma.
Subjects:
Racial, ethnic groups
Maltreatment
Dependence
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies