To the World Social Forum in Bombay/Mumbai (Maharashtra, India)


Authoring NGOs:

Center AVER against Racism, Ternikano Berno, Rromani Baxt, Phralipen Ibar


Among all the peoples and nations making up mankind, one may distinguish in terms of settlement pattern the following categories:

a) a limited number of peoples, established as States during the forming of current borders. Irrespectively of what is proclaimed by authorities, these peoples always share the territory of their State with various other peoples not established in States, due to ups and downs of history.

b) a great number of peoples, living in compact territories but which lacking a State of their own in the present-day political map of the world. Some are encountered in only one State; others are split among several neighbouring States. One should not forget that among these peoples, a significant number are of quite small size (sometimes a handful of villages) but that this feature should by no means preclude their right to recognition and respect, on a foot of equality with other peoples and nations.

c) there is also a certain number of peoples disseminated in comparatively vast areas, with no compact territory or with a scattered pattern of settlement; some of them lead a mobile style of life, at least partially. One can also count among them a number of indigenous peoples. These characteristics should not preclude their right to recognition and respect, on a foot of full quality with all other peoples and nations in the world.


Apparently, the Rroms are the most numerous people of the third category, with some ten millions in Europe and probably fifteen millions all over the world. Accordingly, they may be regarded as the champions of a different approach to globalisation.


In Europe, eight other peoples with no compact territory have been identified (Jewish people, Saamis, Yeniches, Aromanians, Travellers, Rudar-Beás, Western Armenians and Balkano-Egyptians, also called Ashkalis – to which there is some reason to add Euro-Amazighs and Euro-Arabians) with populations oscillating between 40.000 (Yeniches) or 60.000 (Saamis) and six millions (Euro-Arabians). The number of such peoples with no compact territory on all five continents could probably be counted in hundreds. Clearly enough, such peoples are very dissimilar between them already in Europe, not only from a objective standpoint (origin, history, language, customs etc..) but also from a subjective standpoint (self-perception, integration, political orientation etc…). It is therefore obvious that the disparity will be even greater at the world scale. Accordingly there is and there will be no general standard of definition for all peoples with no compact territory, as there is no such norm in so far for the very concept of "people". This diversity is richness.


Peoples belonging to all three categories are likely to be, and actually result to be, victims of exploitation, a mechanism originating from huge hidden forces standing behind, and above, the States. Colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as the oppression of minorities, also commonly referred to as "inner colonialism", are well-known mechanisms of this kind. The fate of peoples with no compact territory, although frequently forgotten in political debates, is in a particularly alarming: among the nine peoples of this kind identified in Europe, five have gone through a systematic genocide during the 20th century and all of them have suffered severe oppression, often shared with other minorities. While the pattern of dispersed settlement creates very often a severe handicap for disseminated peoples and may account for their greater vulnerability, the emergence of modern devices of communications should provide all of them better conditions of organisation and coordination in their area of dispersion.


It is obvious that the struggle for the affirmation and consolidation of one's identity, language, culture, values and way of life is not the only issue in present-day's world, very much worried by economical, social and environmental concerns and even by the very question of mankind survival. Nevertheless it should not be neglected in so far its roots and branches intertwine closely with those of the other problems discussed in the Social forum. At least respect of others and quality of life are common denominators.


In this respect, special attention should be paid to the emergent non-territorial Rromani nation, as proclaimed by the 5th World-wide Rromani Congress in Prague in July 2000. The Rroms originate from India, more precisely from the city of Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh, from which they were deported in 1018 by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. This means that the first – and longer – period of Rromani history unfolded not far from here, on the Indian soil, in the former magnificent capital city of the late Guptas. The Rroms are equally proud of their Indian heritage and of the millennium of history outside India, because the merging of the two led to the creation of the unique and manifold Rromani culture, which has already contributed a lot in the past to Indian, European and world cultures and remains a significant source of thought for the building of a different world, based on values which are very close to the Rromani tradition.


For the first time, there were Rroms participating in a Social Forum at the Paris European Forum, in November 2003, and the two seminars they organized in this context issued the declaration attached hereby. We would like to stress the importance of recognition of the Rromani people as a subject of State and world policies. This recognition is enhanced to some extent in Europe but unfortunately social evils as corruption, demagogy, irresponsibility and lack of transparency intertwine with racism and discrimination in such a way that the position of millions of Rroms is growing worse and worse instead of improving. The analysis of the mechanisms leading to this alarming situation reveals that they are very similar to those of colonialism and neo-colonialism and that they are dominated, and quite often even motivated, by huge economical and political interests, aimed at exploiting not only the Rromani population but also the surrounding peoples. As in the case of colonialism, this exploitation is hidden under the appearance of charity, humanitarian aid or community development projects. In fact, the real purpose of most projects has been to maintain the concerned populations in a situation of dependency while giving a misleading appearance of philanthropic assistance and misappropriating at the same time most of the sums devoted to these projects. Beyond the financial aspect of this rampant corruption, one should probably insist on a still more dangerous evil it provokes, namely the increasing disempowering of Rromani people, more and more discouraged in any attempt of political life and constructive self-determination. The results are not limited to theoretical statements but lead to great poverty, ethnic prejudices, social exclusion, exile and recurrent exclusion from one host country to another. At the same time, self-appointed "representatives" enjoy exactly the same favour position in Rromani politics as political puppets running a country for the interest of neo-colonialist financial trusts. For example, during the last decade, hundreds of millions Euros have been poured by the European Union and various allegedly philanthropic foundations for Eastern European Rroms, with no visible results, as it was stated at the May meeting of OSCE ambassadors in Vienna. While serious basic and occupational education have been repeatedly pointed out as a key-issue for the restoring of the Rromani people on a foot of real quality with other European nations, hardly a few thousands have be devoted to this objective, in most cases in the frame-work of low worth short trainings and practically none for regular studies. The World Bank, which has officially taken over in July 2003 the backing of many projects keeps organising monthly secret meetings about its administration of the so-called "Rromani decade". In the political field, the Council of Europe keeps refusing to recognise the Rroms' national identity and maintains the ungrounded confusion between Rroms, Gypsies and Travellers, although a European conference held in September 2003 in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe itself demonstrated clearly the specificity of the Rromani people and identity, beside some ten other peoples and identities with no compact territory in Europe. Recognition, education and management, which should the spearhead of Rromani policies, are treated as gadgets by financial and political fund providing institutions. The recent Action Plan adopted by the OSCE (Maastricht, December 2003) seems to be but a one more potential instrument, lacking real guaranties for implementation. More than thirty years of this policy have lead to the disaster Rroms are experiencing currently, with all the consequences for social stability in their host countries. Irrespectively of this evidenced failure, there is no visible change in political orientations.


Our information exchanges with other European and extra-European peoples with no compact territory have revealed that similar exploitation is carried out at their expenses in almost all cases and it has become a priority to throughout transform the political approach of these issues through:

- recognition of these identities as such, in full quality with others irrespective of their style of life and size

- recognition of their full rights and responsibilities in participating to policies addressed to them

- recognition of their full rights and responsibilities in all levels of decision-making institutions directed at economic and social progress, equitable trade, environmental issues etc…

-recognition of the right to a mobile style of life, to stop mobility and settle in full freedom and to resume mobility upon a free decision of the person(s) concerned (as granted by Art. 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

- creating actual conditions for a full exercise of this right, in full equality with sedentary citizens in terms of property, schooling, health, credit, welfare, voting, insurance etc…

- nullifying all punishments pronounced against people leading a mobile way of life as a result of non-respecting the law in all cases when the conditions of respecting the law are lacking (lack of camping sites for example)

- making public the financial support to the development to minorities with no compact territory and the real outputs of the investments involved

- devoting substantial financing primarily to scholarship for mass and elite academic education among these minorities, especially for academic training of grass-root level experts, mediators, evaluators and advisers

- setting an innovative system of efficient representation and management not only within these peoples but also at a wider level (State and world levels)

- revocation and progressive dissolution of would-be philanthropic institutions

- replacing their investments by the outputs of rational fund-generating activities

- setting up local scientific advisory bodies committed to the analysis of all forms of racism and discrimination, their genesis and their mechanisms of spreading out and to the elaboration of really efficient remedies to combat them.


We consider that from all these standpoints the struggle of peoples and nations with no compact territory is fully consonant with the struggle of the World Social Forum and we propose the formal integration of our combat into a wide cooperation with all structures committed for the building of a different, more equitable and social World.