[Human Rights] HRC/17th Session, Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Statement by Austria
Thank you, Mr. President.
Austria would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance for his comprehensive presentation and this thematic report.
We welcome this year’s focus on racism and racial discrimination against Roma. We agree with your assessment that Roma continue to be discriminated against and are marginalized and are particularly affected by social exclusion in many countries worldwide. They are widely excluded from the public and political life and are often victims of racial prejudices and harassment. Roma are a legally recognized minority group in Austria which implies inter alia special funding from the state.
In your report you recommend that states should invest in education in order to address the root causes of racism against Roma within society. At the national level, Austria has taken a range of measures in this regard which include the improvement of teaching minority languages. For example, in fall 2009, the pilot phase of a project aimed at improving mother-tongue instruction in Romany was started. In addition, we have launched special training programs for mother-tongue teachers of this language. The involvement of local school mediators in Austria has been an effective tool to counter segregation of Roma children and reduce their drop-out rate.
With a view to a better integration of Roma into the labour market, you recommend states to ensure a more robust enforcement of legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment and to take further measures to protect Roma against the discriminatory practices that affect them in the labour market. Could you outline some of these measures and elaborate also on the role of the private sector in this regard?
The integration of Roma is a two-way process which requires a change of mindsets of the majority population as well as the Roma themselves. In this context, Austria would like to highlight the importance of the work done by civil society, including NGO’s. Their involvement in activities such as awareness-raising campaigns is highly valuable and contributes to a better understanding between Roma and the majority population.
Racism and discrimination are challenges that affect us all. They appear in different ways and in all parts of the world. Therefore, it is our obligation to protect those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability and inequality in order to create an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
I thank you.