From 19 to 21 August, following the invitation of the Council of World Churches - (WCC), whose headquarters are in Geneva, a meeting was held with representatives of the International Roma Union - IRU and senior representatives of the WCC.
The IRU delegation was led by President Zoran Dimov accompanied by Lars Demeter of Sweden, Thomas Acton and Martin Burel of the UK.
Recalling the close collaboration between the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roma World Congress in the 1970s, the International Romani Union (IRU) and the WCC are inspired to revive and renew that collaboration through a Memorandum of Cooperation and Coordination that can strengthen and enhance common efforts for improving the status and the realities of Roma, Sinti, and Travelers around the globe.
To ensure that religion is integral to its plans and programmes, the IRU has established a Commission on Religious Relations. The Commission is tasked with promoting religious freedom and dialogue, and for fostering a moral vision that can help the Roma people address the religious diversity within its own constituency, as well as to respond to the greatest human challenges of our times, including the very complex issue of human belief. The IRU is aware of the WCC’s extensive history and experience in these matters and is looking forward to working together closely for justice and peace especially for Roma people.
The IRU-WCC Memorandum of Cooperation calls for joint coordinated action:
Within the two parties’ broad fields of work including social, humanitarian, and economic, aimed at assisting Roma, Sinti and Travelers in the different world regions to enjoy lives of decency, dignity, and justice;
In biannual joint meetings to share expertise and good practice in capacity building and education, with particular focus on developing a more integrated approach to how they collaborate together and to assisting the IRU on setting strategic priorities for its work;
In response to global crises and conflicts that affect and perpetuate Roma people’s suffering, including racial hate and violence, discrimination, genocide, and natural disasters that displace Roma people from their homes and deprive them of basic decent human living conditions through:
a. joint projects that raise awareness and tell the story of Roma history and current realities;
b. inclusion of Roma special days (like 8 April and 2nd August) in the WCC World Prayer Cycle calendar to help raise the profile of IRU and Roma people generally amongst the WCC fellowship of churches and ecumenical partners;
c.joint delegation of solidarity visits to particular regions where Roma populations are victims of atrocities that must be addressed and made known to the international community;