Respect for human rights of vulnerable groups
Title: Social Rights for Vulnerable Groups II (SoRi II)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia
Lead executing agency: Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS)
Overall term: 2019 to 2022
Accession to the European Union is a declared political goal of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia. At the same time, the inclusion of vulnerable groups constitutes a major part of the EU negotiations for accession. The ongoing rapprochement and reform process with the EU is crucial to cooperation with the countries of the Western Balkans and political stabilisation in south-eastern Europe. The implementation of legal frameworks, political strategies and action plans to ensure full economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) has been stalling for years. Similarly, little headway is being made on implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 development goals, and especially the overarching principle of ‘leave no one behind’. Little attention is paid to them by the respective state actors. This applies to local and national governmental and non-governmental actors, none of whom ensure adequate equality and respect for human rights.
Throughout the Western Balkan regions, Roma, women and young people, disabled people and members of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual) community are among the most vulnerable groups. In addition to hostility and physical assault, they are also at a very high risk of poverty. Often, they do not have equal access to employment opportunities. They frequently live in illegal settlements with inadequate infrastructure. Furthermore, they have limited access to education, especially primary school and secondary education. Their access to social protection and health care is insufficient.
The economic, social and cultural rights of vulnerable groups are improved in five countries of the Western Balkans.
The project enables the responsible actors to identify, develop and apply strategies for ensuring ESC rights for vulnerable groups. At the same time, it promotes the creation of structures to support and strengthen these groups.
The project supports local authorities, non-governmental organisations and government agencies in their efforts to apply strategies aimed at the inclusion and support of vulnerable groups, building on experience and the results of a predecessor project. Proven formats for learning and sharing developed by NALAS (Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe) are used to disseminate the strategies.
At the same time, the project is working to develop competencies in relevant institutions to ensure that the overarching principle of ‘leave no one behind’ is given greater prominence in planning and decision-making processes. To do so, a method is being developed for collecting social data in the municipalities. Here, too, the project involves the local authority associations in the different countries and their umbrella organisation, NALAS, as intermediaries and exchange platforms.
A further aim is to improve the employability of particularly vulnerable groups by providing support and advice when they are applying for jobs, in training or in employment. The project works with selected civil society and governmental actors to strengthen human resources and competencies in this respect also.