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Minority Rights as a Normative Framework for Addressing the Situation of Roma in Europe


  • Galina Kostadinova


Roma are the largest and most marginalized ethnic group in Europe, suffering from severe poverty, racial hostility, the obliteration of their culture and exclusion from public life. This study argues that the various types of injustice faced by the Roma in terms of agency and socio-economic conditions are interdependent and need to be tackled in a single normative framework. The aim of the paper is to examine how well the international system of minority rights protection is suited to dealing with these multifaceted disadvantages. It sets aside the question of whether governments are honouring their commitments under minority rights law. Instead it investigates whether and how minority rights law meets the recognition and redistribution issues faced by Roma, so that it might be used as a normative paradigm for policy-makers facing different approaches to the Roma question. To this end, it examines the substantive content of minority rights and concludes that they address Roma recognition issues via provisions related to: minority physical existence; cultural existence and identity; and participation in public affairs. Unlike other normative paradigms, such as socio-economic rights, minority rights law lacks redistribution provisions per se. Yet, it deals with Roma welfare issues through a rich concept of substantial equality. Minority rights law captures the group dimension of Roma disadvantage and puts forward positive duties so that societal structures generating social exclusion and discrimination are transformed.

Suggested Citation

  • Galina Kostadinova, 2011. "Minority Rights as a Normative Framework for Addressing the Situation of Roma in Europe," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 163-183.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:163-183
    DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2011.570864

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dena Ringold & Mitchell A. Orenstein & Erika Wilkens, 2005. "Roma in an Expanding Europe : Breaking the Poverty Cycle," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14869.
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