The ROMED1 Programme was initiated in 2011 aiming for the training of mediators around Europe. Indeed, mediation is one of the tools recommended by most instances at European level for reducing the gap between Roma communities and public institutions, such as schools, health facilities, but also local and regional administrations.
It was the "Strasbourg Declaration on Roma" in 2010 with its article 46, which engaged the commitment of signatory states to
"set up a European Training Programme for Roma Mediators with the aim to streamline, codify and consolidate the existing training programmes for and about Mediators for Roma, through the most effective use of existing Council of Europe resources, standards, methodology, networks and infrastructure, notably the European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest, in close co-operation with national and local authorities."
In 2012, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Recommedation CM/REC (2012)9 to Member States on mediation as an effective tool for promoting respect for human rights and social inclusion of Roma. A printable version of the Recommendation is available on our website in English and French.
The general aim of ROMED1 is to improve the quality and effectiveness of the work of school, health, employment and community mediators, with a view to supporting better communication and co-operation between Roma and public institutions (school, health-care providers, employment offices, local authorities etc.)
To contribute to the achievement of the general aim, the ROMED programme was focused on the following three objectives:
1. to promote effective intercultural mediation to improve the communication and co-operation between Roma and public institutions;
2. to ensure the integration of a rights-based approach in the mediation between Roma communities and public institutions;
3. to support the work of mediators by providing tools for planning and implementation of their activities which encourage democratic participation while generating empowerment of Roma communities and increased accountability of public institutions.
In the context of effective intercultural mediation mediators, their employers, public institutions in general, as well as members of the Roma communities, need to clearly understand and accept co-operation based on the principles of mediation. Mediators therefore need support and specific competences to perform their role from this perspective.
The human rights based approach, which is one of the pillars of the work of the Council of Europe, is essential for overcoming the paternalistic perspective often encountered in public institutions, as well as the tendency for complacency in a situation of dependency, often encountered among members of the disadvantaged Roma communities, mainly because they do not trust that it is possible otherwise. Thus, the ROMED1 programme promotes the idea that the intervention of a mediator is necessary to build trust between Roma and public institutions, not as an act of charity, but as a responsibility for ensuring effective access to fundamental rights of citizens.
To perform their role as intercultural mediators from a rights-based perspective well, mediators also need practical skills, tools and specific methods to organise their work. The ROMED programme contributes to the development of the key competences mediators need and proposes a participatory work cycle starting with the set-up of support teams, both at community level and within the public institutions. The work is structured as a cyclic process including participatory planning, implementation and evaluation, leading to empowerment, accountability and better direct co-operation.
Mediation is one of the measures used across Europe to tackle the inequalities Roma face in terms of access to employment, healthcare services and quality education. It consists of employing persons with a Roma background, from local Roma communities, or with a good knowledge of Roma issues, to act as mediators between the Roma and the public institutions.
The implementation of the programme started in November 2010 with the consultation of key stakeholders in the field and with the selection of the first group of trainers, and continued with the training of trainers, while the delivery of the first trainings for mediators started in the spring of 2011.
In the period 2011-2015 several key achievements can be mentioned:
A set of reference documents:
Influence on national policies:
Impact on the practice and training of mediators:
ROMED1 was intensively implemented from 2011 until 2013. After the launching of ROMED2, a programme that builds on the achievements of ROMED1, the training of mediators have only been conducted upon request as well as in new locations where the methodology had not been previously introduced. The infographic below presents the main figures and achievements.
ROMED1 - ‘European Training Programme on intercultural mediation for Roma Communities’
*excerpts of the External Evaluation of the ROMED Programme
ROMED1 emerged from the earlier extensive work of the [Council of Europe] to promote intercultural mediation, highlighted in the Strasbourg Declaration, signed by the representatives of the member states in October 2010. It established ROMED1 as a European Training Programme, implemented in co‑operation with national and local authorities with the aim of enhancing the quality of the work of Roma mediators in order to improve Roma access to local services.
ROMED1 developed and spread a new vision for the role of Roma mediators at European, national and local levels. It was initiated as a complex capacity building effort aimed at systemic change. The methodology was systematised in the ROMED1 Trainer’s Handbook which was continuously improved on the basis of feedback from trainers and participants.
From 2011 to 2016 ROMED1 trained 1,479 mediators from 500 municipalities in 22 countries. Approximately 90% of the trained mediators are Roma, and more than 50% are women. Over 700 representatives of local institutions took part in training sessions which increased their understanding of the role of mediators. Representatives of national institutions with relevant responsibilities in Roma inclusion were also present at some training sessions.
The ROMED1 training programme was considered by local stakeholders to be highly relevant to the needs of local Roma inclusion processes. In particular, mediators valued it for its human rights based approach and empowerment orientation, and for its focus on the clarity of the role of mediators and the practical aspects of their work.