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Webinar: Responses to COVID-19 at Local, National, and International Levels
October 8, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am
On October 8, 2020, leading scholars and activists will discuss the additional challenges and risks Romani people are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic during a webinar, “Responses to COVID-19 at Local, National, and International Levels.” The event will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. EDT (3 to 4:30 p.m. CEST). The event will be streamed live on the Facebook page of the Central European University Romani Studies Program.
Chair | Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, a member and the Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Rita Izsák-Ndiaye is a human rights expert from Hungary who has been working with numerous different civil society and multilateral organizations in various countries, including in Somalia and Bosnia and Herzegovia, as well as with the Government of Hungary in the fields of discrimination, racism, minority rights, social inclusion and on other related issues. She is a former UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues (2011-2017) and currently a member and the Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. She is married with two children and is based in Dakar, Senegal.
Contributor | Dr. Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, European Union (via prerecorded segment)
Helena Dalli will join us via a prerecorded segment; in December 2019 she became the first EU Commissioner for Equality. Her role is to deliver on the Union of Equality chapter within the Political Guidelines of President von der Leyen, by strengthening Europe’s commitment to equality and inclusion in all of its senses. Prior to taking her role as Commissioner, Dalli held various political roles in Malta including Member of Parliament (1996 to 2019), Minister for European Affairs and Equality (2017 to 2019), and Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties (2013-2017). She was also opposition Shadow Minister for public administration, equality, public broadcasting and national investments (1998-2013) and Junior Minister for Women’s Rights in the Office of Prime Minister (1996-1998). Dalli holds a PhD in Political Sociology from the University of Nottingham, and lectured in Economic and Political Sociology, Public Policy, and Sociology of Law at the University of Malta.
Contributor | Dr. Carmen Gheorghe, President, E-Romnja Association
Carmen Gheorghe is the president of E-Romnja Association (The Association for Promoting Roma Women’s Rights), a Roma feminist NGO based in Romania. She holds a PhD in Political Science on standpoint feminism, addressing Roma women and politics of identities. She has been engaged in civil society for the last 18 and her main work for the last 13 years has focused on grassroots work, community development, gender issues, intersectionality, politics of identity, violence against Roma women/girls and labor market. She is an independent researcher, publishing academic articles, reports for different NGOs, and coordinating publications.
Contributor | Dr. Ismael Cortés, Member of Parliament in Spain
Ismael Cortés hold a PhD in International Studies of Peace, Conflicts and Development by the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace at Universitat Jaume I. He has been a researcher at the University of Nottingham, the International University of Andalusia and the Carlos III University. He has been an expert consultant in the OSCE – ODHIR project “Turning words into action. Combating anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance (2015-2018).” He has worked as a policy analyst for think tanks such as the Center for European Policy Studies and the Open Society European Policy Institute. He was a postdoc fellow of the Romani Studies Program at the Central European University. He coordinated the book Dimensions of Antigypsyism in Europe. Currently he serves as an MP in the Spanish Parliament.
Contributor | Romeo Franz, Member of the European Parliament
Romeo Franz joined the European Parliament as a member in 2018 and was re-elected in 2019, being the first Sinto from Germany elected in the European Parliament. Mr. Franz is the first vice chair of the Culture and Education Committee, substitute member of the Committees on Employment and Social Affairs and Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the chair of the Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Since 2014, he has been Managing Director of the Hildegard Lagrenne Foundation and has been involved in civil rights work for more than 20 years. He is the first Romani MEP who developed a resolution asking for an EU Law for the Equality Inclusion and Participation of Romani People and Combating antigypsyism. The resolution was passed by the European Parliament on September 17th with a majority of 545 votes.
Contributor | Dan Pavel Doghi, the Chief of the OSCE ODIHR’s Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues, Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues
In March 2018, Dan Pavel Doghi joined the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues and Chief of the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues (CPRSI). Previously, Mr. Doghi served as the Higher Education Program Manager of Roma Education Fund (REF), in Budapest (2012-2017), and as Officer within the ODIHR’s CPRSI throughout 2004-2011. While at REF, Mr. Doghi was also the National Director of REF Romania Office, during 2013-2015. During 2009-2016, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). Mr. Doghi was an Advocacy Fellow in the training and education programme of the Public Interest Law Initiative, a Budapest-based programme of Columbia University, where he worked on the issue of segregation in education of Roma children. He was involved in human rights and civil society work since 1996, through Roma NGOs in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Mr. Doghi studied social sciences at Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj, Romania, and completed a postgraduate course in International Diplomacy at the University of Malta.
Contributor | Zeljko Jovanovic, Director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office
Zeljko Jovanovic is director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office. The office supports Roma in making their voices heard and power felt in policymaking. Besides his work with the Open Society Foundations, Jovanovic is a board chair of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture and also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the ASPEN Institute.
Before joining the Open Society Foundations in 2006, Jovanovic worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Catholic Relief Services. He also led a grassroots Roma organization, a community radio, civic and political campaigns, and mentored and trained managers, advocates, and leaders.
Jovanovic graduated in law at the University of Belgrade and in governance at the University of Oxford. Jovanovic comes from a family of Roma ethnic background that through a belief in hard work, self-determination, and education, moved from multi-generational extreme poverty to the middle class in Serbia.
Discussant | Martha Davis, Professor of Law, Northeastern University
Martha Davis is University Distinguished Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, where she is also faculty director of both the law school human rights program and the NuLawLab. In addition, Professor Davis is an affiliated scholar of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden. She has written widely on human rights and social justice, with particular focus on local human rights implementation, including issues faced by Romani people in Sweden. Her scholarly articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, Fordham Law Journal, NYU Review of Law & Social Change, and others. She is the co-author of the textbook, Human Rights Advocacy in the United States, now in its second edition, and is currently co-editing a book on COVID-19 and human rights.
About the Webinar Series
This event is the fourth and last in the four-part webinar series, “Romani People During Pandemics.” The webinar series aims to:
- Discuss past and present patterns of fearing or blaming Roma during pandemics and place these patterns in the broader history of scapegoating in times of crisis.
- Draw attention to various responses chosen by state representatives and their rationale. We will discuss discriminatory measures by local or state institutions who imposed Roma-only, disproportionate, or militarized measures in Romani neighborhoods or towns.
- Focus on effective responses implemented at local, national, or international levels by state and non-state actors to protect Romani people, their health and well-being in times of pandemic and outside of them.
This webinar series is being organized by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, the Romani Studies Program of the Central European University, the Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities (ISPMN), and Cornell University.