restricted access The Struggle for Roma Rights: Arguments that Have Worked
Abstract

The Roma represent the quintessential pan-European ethnic minority, present in almost all Council of Europe member states, but lacking a territory or government of their own. Over the past decade, Roma rights advocates have succeeded in persuading the European Court of Human Rights to significantly expand the protection afforded to victims of violence and discrimination by the European Convention of Human Rights. Three sets of arguments have proven central: (i) process-based claims, relating to positive obligations, burdens of proof, and rebuttable presumptions; (ii) arguments premised on a body of factual evidence that accumulates gradually; and (iii) arguments that address systemic problems, even when focusing on the claims of individual applicants in specific cases. As the Roma rights movement looks to the future, the challenge is increasingly to find arguments that compel reform outside the courtroom in parliaments, local governments, and other centers of political power capable of translating judicial decisions into change on the ground.


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