Collective Rights and the Cultural Identity of the Roma

A Case Study of Italy


Is the use of mechanisms that only focus on the protection of individual human rights sufficient to protect the cultural identity of minorities? Much more can be achieved by adopting a system that applies the principles of equality and non-discrimination, and encompasses the recognition of a collective right to cultural identity. Culture and cultural identity are indeed important for the identification of groups and ethnicity. But are the Roma an ethnic group? Are they a minority? In answering these questions, Italy is used as a case study to illustrate the limits of non-discrimination provisions and the need to recognise the collective right to cultural identity.


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Biographical Note

Claudia Tavani, Ph.D. (2010) in Law, University of Essex, cooperates with various non-governmental organisations and universities, including the University of Cagliari. Her research interests are cultural rights, cultural identity, protection of minorities, non-discrimination, collective rights and human rights in general.

Review Quotes

"Die Untersuchung zeigt auf interessante Weise nicht nur die im Hinblick auf die Roma als Minderheit gegenwärtig bestehenden Probleme, sondern auch wie diesen rechtlich begegnet werden kann."
Sabine Scharnagl, Newsletter Menschenrechte, 3/2013-Literatur, pp. 223-224, Österreichisches Institut für Menschenrechte.

Table of contents

Abstract; List of Abbreviations; Introduction
Book Outline;
1 Chapter I: An overview of the Roma and their culture
1.1 Introduction: the importance of recognising the Roma as an ethnic group;
1.2 Culture and cultural identity;
1.3 Historical background;
1.4 The Roma today: main characteristics and identification;
1.5 Conclusions: the Roma as an ethnic and transnational minority;
2 Chapter II: The definition of minority and the protection of Roma in international law instruments
2.1 Introduction;
2.2 Article 27 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
2.3 International Labour Organisation Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples;
2.4 The 2005 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
2.5 The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe;
2.6 The Council of Europe and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;
2.7 The European Charter for Regional of Minority Languages;
2.8 Conclusions;
3 Chapter III: The protection of minority rights through individual human rights
3.1 Introduction;
3.2 The principles of equality and non-discrimination as a full realisation of the rights of minorities;
3.3 The protection of minorities in the European Union;
3.4 The United Nations instruments and their jurisprudence ;
3.5 The European Convention on Human Rights and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;
3.6 Conclusions: de facto equality, affirmative action and special measures as ways to protect minorities;
4 Chapter IV: Individual v. Collective rights
4.1 Introduction;
4.2 The added value of collective rights;
4.3 The protection of collective rights in international instruments;
4.4. The debate between supporters and critics of collective rights;
4.5 Collective rights and cultural identity? ;
5 Chapter V: The case of Italy
5.1 Introduction;
5.2 Background information on the Roma in Italy;
5.3 The Italian legal system;
5.4 The juridical status of the Roma in Italy;
5.5 Measures “in favour” of the Roma?;
5.6 Conclusions and final remarks;
Conclusions; Appendix I ; Appendix II; Appendix III ; Appendix IV ; Appendix V; Bibliography; Table of Cases; Index.


All those interested in minorities issues, the use of collective rights for the protection of the cultural identity of minorities, and in Roma and Sinti issues.


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