Moldova: Using the UN Declaration on Minorities to combat intolerance
The Moldovan government has taken steps to protect the rights of minorities by incorporating provisions of the UN Declaration on Minorities into national legislation, as well as provisions in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
But despite legal reforms, there is a serious need to address ingrained discrimination and intolerance in the country, according Tatiana Kleiman, executive director of the National Institute for Women of Moldova ‘Equality’. ‘People belonging to minority groups face difficulties related to employment, education, access to health care, expression of opinion, freedom of assembly and association,’ Tatiania said. Minorities in Moldova include Armenians, Bulgarians, Gagauzians, Germans, Greeks, Poles, Roma, Russians and Ukrainians.
‘Our organization tries to increase the level of political and social activities of women,’ Tatiana continued. ‘We strive to raise the number of women in the bodies of state power, in accordance with their real ratio in the population. For this purpose we organize courses and try to realize projects on training in leadership. Women make up over 50 per cent of the population, but less than 20 per cent of members of parliament in Moldova.’
There has been an increasing use of hate speech and discriminatory graffiti used against minority groups in Moldova, especially against Jewish and Roma people. Anti-Semitic rallies have been held in the streets of Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city. These threats to minorities are leading to what Tatiana sees as a growing intolerance among youth.
The Institute holds ‘training of trainers’ sessions to address these worrying trends. Recently they have trained university and public school teachers on inter-ethnic tolerance. According to Tatiana: ‘The participants were acquainted with the new legislation in the field of the rights of ethnic minorities and the mechanism of their protection,’ including national legislation and the Declaration. Teachers were then expected to incorporate these lessons into their own educational settings. The Institute has also published leaflets and manuals on minority rights in Moldova for professors, teachers, students and non-governmental organization staff.
‘We have been repeatedly asked to continue our sessions on this subject, as the participants have stressed that, in Moldova, obtaining such knowledge is very difficult, and no one ever organized such activities before,’ said Tatiana.
The Institute draws on Moldovan legislation since it already incorporates rights outlined in the Declaration. The legally binding provisions in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities are also more applicable to Moldova’s situation. However, Tatiana asserted: ‘We believe it is necessary to increase the use of the Declaration. We should be familiar with it, not only minorities, but also those in power.’
This is an extract from Minority Rights Group's publication Know your rights: A community guide to the UN Declaration on Minorities.
Photo: Roma women in Moldova. Credit: TheCursedFrog.