Photo Credits: Grace Kat’s Flickr: 2009 HarmonyDay by Deeva & Zhara
The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law has launched a new initiative aimed to help community-based organizations increase political participation of refugees and marginalized groups in Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
“This RWI Inclusion Academy, an initiative in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE), is an effort to strengthen the active participation of refugees and minorities in the policy and decision making processes which affect their lives,” says Morten Kjaerum, director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute.
Nine community based organizations which already work with marginalized groups in Sweden, Finland and Norway will be invited to receive training at the Inclusion Academy.
The Academy will aim to provide the community-based organizations with necessary knowledge of human rights and tools that they can use in their interaction with people at all levels in the society, in the ultimate goal of enhancing their ability to influence policy and to empower them in their relations with decision-makers.
Kjaerum says while during the past year the political discussions in the EU have centered around the challenges linked to the number of refugees seeking asylum in the Union, focus should now shift to ensuring that those who have received asylum are included in the societies in which they settle.
Marginalized groups, such as refugees, often lack the structures and tools to make their voices heard in decision processes affecting them. This may isolate them even further in their precarious living conditions. This is problematic because participation is a human right and a cornerstone of democratic governance.
“Narrowing the gap between decision-makers and the people affected by the decisions, is thus crucial in order to improve their access to, and enjoyment of, human rights,” says Kjaerum.
The idea for the Academy came from a high-level round-table discussion organized by RWI in cooperation with OSIFE earlier this year. One conclusion from that session was that working closely with civil society is vital in order to enhance the exchange between decision-makers and marginalized groups.
The plans for the Academy will be finalized during the next few months and the outreach to these civil society organizations will begin.