Peace, Security, and Roma in Europe

As part of UN month, on October 27th, the Atlantic Council’s Transatlantic Relations Program partnered with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area to host an event to raise awareness about the Roma’s ongoing struggle for equal rights and opportunities throughout Europe.

Jud Nirenberg, former CEO of the European Roma and Travelers Forum and Daniel Nadel from the US Department of State discussed how US and European policymakers can address the socio-economic and human rights challenges of the Roma people. Cynthia Romero, associate director of the Program on Transatlantic Relations moderated the discussion.

Jud Nirenberg discussed the historical roots of Roma persecution in Europe and how state policies have reinforced deprivation and discrimination of Roma communities for centuries. Mr. Nirenberg stressed that while policies are in place at the European, national, and local levels, leaders throughout Europe lack the political will to implement Roma integration policies and deliver concrete results. Mr. Nirenberg advocated for a holistic approach that takes into account the multidimensional nature of the issue by tackling problems from housing and employment to human rights and discrimination. Widespread misperceptions have hamstringed efforts to improve the quality of life of the Roma throughout Europe, resulting in unsustainable inequality and exclusion, which presents an enormous challenge to Europe’s principles of democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, violence by ultranationalists groups against Roma communities is on the rise throughout Europe.

Daniel Nadel highlighted efforts by the US government to support Roma integration in Europe and establish best practices for these efforts. Mr. Nadel, who oversees approximately $6 million in democracy assistance funds to Central and Eastern Europe, discussed US government-funded projects to support educational programs for Roma youth, promote civic and political engagement of Roma communities, and promote exchanges that allow up and coming Roma leaders to learn from the US experience of minority integration and the struggle for civil rights. Mr. Nadel also highlighted how US government leaders, including Secretary Clinton, have worked with partners in Europe to elevate the policy debate on Roma issues and address this important topic as part of a constructive transatlantic dialogue.

This event was part of the Atlantic Council’s ongoing debate series on Transatlantic Cooperation on Roma Integration, which brings together policymakers, practitioners, and NGO leaders from the United States and Europe to discuss the issue of Roma rights, how these issues can be elevated in the Washington and European policy community, and how the United States can be engaged and share lessons learned.

A discussion with

Jud Nirenberg
Former CEO
European Roma and Travellers Forum

Daniel Nadel
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
US State Department

Moderated by

Cynthia Romero
Associate Director, Program on Transatlantic Relations
Atlantic Council

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