Council of Europe

Descriptive Glossary of

terms relating to Roma issues


version dated 18 May 2012





Introduction 3


New Definition 3


Chapter I:Background and names for the various population groups and the language 5


I.1 Origins 5

I.2 Estimates 6

I.3 Terms designating the various population groups 6

I.4 Terms relating to the language10

I.5 Newly defined term12


Chapter II:Council of Europe texts relating to Roma issues13


II.1 Texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers13

II.2 Texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly13

II.3 Texts adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities13

II.4 Texts adopted by the ECRI14

II.5 Other texts14


Chapter III:Relevant bodies and initiatives of the Council of Europe and partner



III.1 New Council of Europe bodies15

III.2 Former Council of Europe bodies15

III.3 Organisations, associations, NGOs and informal bodies16

III.4 Council of Europe projects and initiatives19


Chapter IV:Terms and expressions with specific uses or presenting translation



IV.1 Terms relating to status and lifestyle23

IV.2 Terms relating to encampments, accommodation and facilities23

IV.3 Terms relating to deportation24

IV.4 Terms relating to the situation of women and health25

IV.5 Terms relating to mediation25

IV.6 Terms relating to history, language and culture26

IV.7 Terms relating to policies27


Contact persons for the glossary28



The terminology used by the Council of Europe (CoE) has varied considerably since 1969, the date of the first text relating to the Roma communities: “Gypsies and other travellers”, “Nomads” (1975 and 1983), “populations of nomadic origin” (1981), “Gypsies” (1993), “Roma (Gypsies)” (1995), “Roma” (1997, 2002), “Roma/Gypsies” (1995, 1998, 2000), “Roma/Gypsies and Travellers” (2001), “Roma and Travellers” (between 2004 and 2010), and “Roma” since 2010. These changing names are detailed in the book by Jean-Pierre Liégeois The Council of Europe and Roma – 40 years of action, English version to be published in 2012 by Council of Europe Publishing.


In 2006, because of the many different terms found in Council of Europe texts and on Council websites, it was felt essential to harmonise the terminology used in the Organisation.


The first version of this glossary was therefore written in December 2006 by Claire Pedotti (French Translation Department), Michaël GUET (DGIII Roma and Travellers Division) and Aurora AILINCAI (DGIV Project “Schooling for Roma Children in Europe”) in consultation with the English and French Translation Departments of the Council of Europe and the Secretariat of the European Roma and Travellers Forum.  This interdepartmental collaboration has continued since that time, also with Alan McDonald from the English Translation Department, and this new, amended and updated version of that initial glossary is the result.


Some of our decisions on terminology are based on the conclusions of a seminar held at the Council of Europe in September 2003 on “The cultural identities of Roma, Gypsies, Travellers and related groups in Europe”, attended by representatives of the various groups in Europe (Roma, Sinti, Kale, Romanichals, Boyash, Ashkali, Egyptians, Yenish, Travellers, etc.) and of various international organisations (OSCE-ODIHR, European Commission, UNHCR and others).


Although the recommendations in this glossary apply above all to the terminology used in the Council of Europe, it is interesting to note that the glossary has also been used in other international organisations and institutions, such as the European Commission and the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, and in a number of UN bodies, in particularly in their translation and interpreting departments.



New definition:


In 2010, several Parliamentary Assembly texts were adopted which simply used the term “Roma”, with a footnote giving a definition.  This change in terminology was approved on 20 October that year at the high-level meeting on the Roma with the adoption of the Strasbourg Declaration.  Following this declaration a Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Roma Issues was appointed and an SRSG support team replaced the former Roma and Travellers Division.


This latest edition of the glossary is an update of the December 2006 version and reflects the current consensus. It takes account of recent developments with regard to usage and acceptance in everyday language, and the geographical coverage of the Council of Europe whose members include Turkey and the countries of the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) which are home to communities belonging to the eastern branch of the Roma (Dom and Lom – see the relevant entries below).


Current usage in the Council of Europe is to use the term “Roma”, accompanied by the following definition (there is a slight difference between the English and French versions as certain precisions in French were not necessary in English):




The term “Roma” used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as Gypsies.



Le terme « Roms » utilisé au Conseil de l’Europe désigne les Roms, les Sintés (Manouches), les Kalés (Gitans) et les groupes de population apparentés en Europe, dont les Voyageurs et les branches orientales (Doms, Loms) ; il englobe la grande diversité des groupes concernés, y compris les personnes qui s’auto-identifient comme « Tsiganes » et celles que l’on désigne comme « Gens du voyage ».


You are strongly encouraged to follow the recommendations set out in this glossary (if in doubt, use the underlined term).


Chapter I: Background and names for the various population groups and the language




Roma are very widely misunderstood, and over the centuries attitudes towards them, or the political decisions taken in respect of them, have been prompted more by prejudice than by a knowledge of historical and cultural realities.


The first written traces of the arrival of the Roma in Europe date back to the 14th century but it may well be that there were some Roma in Europe as early as the 12th century.


Not until the end of the 18th century did linguists discover that the language, Romani (romani ćhib), was an Indian language, more specifically from north-western India, and derived from popular speech close to Sanskrit.


The first waves of migration of these peoples seem to have taken place from the 9th century onwards (some authors date the first movement at around the year 1000) for reasons which are still uncertain. The ancestors of the Roma who left India migrated via Persia, Armenia and Byzantine Asia Minor, gradually making their way to the whole of Europe (they are however also to be found in America, Africa, Australia, etc.). The European Roma can be sub-divided into three main branches: Roma, Sinti (also referred to as Manush) and Kale (or Spanish Gypsies) - see the respective entries below. The European Roma, the Dom (who settled in the countries of the Middle East and Turkey) and the Lom (who remained in the countries of the Caucasus), seem to share, if not common geographical and linguistic origins, at least a common socio-ethnic identity.[1]


“Roma” also became the generic term used internationally since the first World Congress in London in 1971, when representatives of these communities also adopted 8 April as International Roma Day, an anthem (Gelem, Gelem[2]) and a flag:[3]


Fichier:Roma flag.svg


The following are three key dates for the Roma:


There are, in addition, other groups, particularly in the Balkans, who are regarded or who regard themselves as Roma, but who do not speak Romani and who do not have the same North Indian origin. These include the Boyash (also known as Beash, Bayash, Banyash, Baieşi or Rudari, depending on the country) whose language derives from Moeso-Romanian, and some members of the Ashkali, who speak Albanian.


Other groups, who resemble the Roma in certain respects, such as the Albanian-speaking “Egyptians” (so-called because they reputedly came from Egypt) and certain Ashkali, insist on their ethnic difference. Both groups are Albanian-speaking


In western Europe, a distinction should be made between the Roma/Sinti/Kale and other groups who sometimes share their lifestyle, or their plight (difficulties in integrating, discrimination, etc) but who do not have the same ethnic origin or the same language.  These include the Yenish (found in Switzerland and some neighbouring countries) and the Irish Travellers (see below).




The average estimate for the number of Roma throughout Europe (the geographical area covered by the Council of Europe) is approximately 11 million, and around 6 million within the 27 European Union member states.[4]  Estimates for the whole of Europe range from 8 to 15 million, and accordingly, “10 to 12 million” seems to us to be the most appropriate for the Council of Europe texts.


It should also be borne in mind that the vast majority of Roma in Europe (80-85%) are today sedentary.  Those who maintain an itinerant lifestyle are now mainly to be found only in France, the Benelux countries, Switzerland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Many are already moving towards a sedentary lifestyle.


I.3Terms designating the various population groups




a Rom (n.)

Roma (pl.)


Roma (adj.)

Romani (adj. primarily for the language)


“Rom” means “man of the Roma ethnic group” or “husband”, depending on the variant of Romani or the author.


The feminine of “Rom” in the Romani language is “Romni”.  However, in English “Rom” is used for both a man and a woman.


In some variants of Romani and certain institutions (such as the INALCO Institute in Paris), the “r” in “Rrom” is doubled; this spelling is also used for political reasons in certain countries, e.g. Romania (to distinguish Rroma from Romanians).


In English both “Roma” and “Romani” are used as adjectives: a “Roma(ni) woman”, “Roma(ni) communities”.  However, it is recommended that Romani be restricted to the language and culture: “Romani language”, “Romani culture”.


It should be noted that in Norway, the term “Romani” refers to a separate minority, distinct from the Roma (the Norwegian Romani/Travellers are an indigenous community who do not share the North Indian origin of the Roma).


As stated in the introduction, the term “Roma”, as used internationally, denotes all groups sharing a common Indian origin (Roma, Sinti, Kale), and the communities who refer to themselves as Roma, found mainly in the Balkans and central and eastern Europe, but also throughout the world.


The Roma branch strictly speaking constitutes up to 87 to 88% of the total Roma population (in the generic sense) in Europe.


The Roma themselves are divided into sub-groups (Kelderash, Lovari, Gurbeti, Churari, Ursari, etc.).  They speak variants of Romani (“romani ćhib”).


Lastly, in certain national contexts in western Europe, and particularly in France, the term “Roma” is used in official language exclusively to refer to the Roma populations who have migrated from central and eastern Europe and is distinct from other terms used to refer to the indigenous Roma/Manush/Gypsies (for whom the administrative term in France is “Gens du voyage” (Travellers) – see below).


Sinti (Manush)


a Sinto (n.)

Sinti (pl.)

Sinti (adj.)


“Sinto” comes from the word “Sind” (an ancient Indian name).  The Sinti are to be found primarily in the German-speaking regions (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) where they settled in the 15th century, and in Benelux and Sweden.


In France, they are also called Manush (Manouches) from the Romani word Manus, meaning “to be human/a man”.


The Sinti/Manush speak a Germanised version of Romani (called Romnepen) which is significantly more different from Romani than other variants of the language.


There is a southern sub-branch of the Sinti in northern Italy (Piedmont, Lombardy) and in south-eastern France (Provence), whose language comprises a partly Italian-based vocabulary.


Sinti/Manush represent 2 to 3% of the total Roma population (generic sense) in Europe.


Kale (Spanish Gypsies)


a Kalo (n.)

Kale (pl.)

Kale (adj.)


The Kale (more commonly called “Gitanos” or “Spanish Gypsies”) form the third main branch of European Roma (in the generic sense), who crossed the Pyrenees in the 15th century. The Kale/Spanish Gypsies live in the Iberian Peninsula and in southern France (in particular families who crossed the Pyrenees in the opposite direction to flee the Franco and Salazar regimes).


They have almost totally lost the use of Romani, a consequence of the severe repression suffered under the Catholic Kings. They speak Kaló which derives from Spanish (vocabulary and grammar) with some Romani borrowings. Today, there are two variants (Spanish Kaló and Catalan Kaló). It is spelt with a “c” in Spanish (Caló, Calé) but “k” is the recommended international version.


There is also a “Kaalé” group in Finland, which is striving to preserve its traditions, and there are Kale in Wales (who arrived from Spain via France and Cornwall), who have no longer spoken Kaló since the 1950s.


The Kale represent about 10% of the total Roma population (generic sense) in Europe.




a Gypsy (n.)

Gypsies (pl.)

Gypsy (adj.)


The term “Roma/Gypsies” was used for many years by the Council of Europe, before the decision was taken to no longer use it in official texts in 2005 (a decision reflected in the first version of the Glossary in December 2006), in particular at the request of International Roma associations who find it to be an alien term, linked with negative, paternalistic stereotypes which still pursue them in Europe. Consequently, in the majority of European states, it is recommended that the word “Gypsy” or its equivalent no longer be used, as it is felt to be pejorative and insulting by most of the people concerned (although it is true that it may depend significantly on the context in which it is used).


However, in some countries, the term “Gypsies” or its national equivalent has no negative connotations, is accepted by the people concerned and may occasionally be more appropriate.  This is true of France (where the word “Tsiganes” has the advantage of encompassing in one term the Roma, Gypsies/Gitans and Sinti/Manush), the United Kingdom, Portugal (Ciganos), Spain (Gitanos), Hungary (Cigány) and in Russia and the former Soviet republics (Tsyganye). In some countries, NGOs established by Roma, Sinti and Kale use the word Gypsy or its equivalent (Tsigane, Zingari, etc) in the name of their organisation.  Nonetheless, in each of these countries, the word “Roma” is accepted when used to designate the Roma community as a whole, especially in the international bodies.


Incidentally, “Tsigane”, the French term for “Gypsy”, has traditionally been spelt with an “s” in Council of Europe documents rather than a “z”, in particular because the letter “Z” was tattooed on the arms of the Roma and Sinti held in the Nazi camps, and because the equivalent words in other languages beginning with a “Z” (Zigeuner, Zingari, Zigøner, Zigenare, etc.), may be felt to be pejorative and insulting by the people concerned.




a Romanichal (n.)

Romanichals (pl.)

Romanichal (adj.)


In the United Kingdom, mainly in England and south Wales, there is a group, the Romanichals (derived from the Romani “romani čel” which means Roma people), who identify themselves as “Gypsies” (sometimes “Roma/Gypsies” in official texts). They speak Anglo-Romani, which has a mixed English/Romani vocabulary and English grammar.


The equivalent term in French “Romanichels”, which is often pejorative, is very uncommon in France today, although certain individuals still use it.




a Traveller (n.)

Travellers (pl.)

Traveller (adj.)


“Travellers” proper are found in Ireland and Great Britain and are ethnically distinct from the Roma/Sinti/Kale.


In Ireland, they are officially regarded as an indigenous community, which is not distinct from the majority in terms of race, colour, ancestry or ethnic origin.


Irish Travellers call themselves Pavee in their own language. This language, known as Cant, Shelta or Gammon, has an essentially English and Irish vocabulary (with a few Romani borrowings) and grammar close to that of English. Many words are formed by reversing syllables. For a long time, Travellers were also known as Tinkers or Tinklers (which they regard as pejorative).


There are no “British Travellers” proper in the United Kingdom, where the only terms used - particularly in England – are “Irish Travellers” or “Travellers of Irish Heritage”. Like Roma/Gypsies, they are regarded as a distinct ethnic group, covered (unlike Travellers in Ireland!) by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.


However, in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the terms “Irish Travellers” and “Scottish Travellers” are used.  In Scotland, the “Scottish Gypsies/Travellers” (some accept the term “Gypsies”, others do not) have sometimes been called “Nawkins”, or “Nachin” – both pejorative (see “Tinkers”, above).


The various Traveller groups nonetheless have one point in common.  They are not necessarily itinerant. Originally, the Travellers in Ireland were itinerant, but 80% are now sedentary. In France, one third of people termed Travellers are sedentary.  For people who identify themselves as Travellers, the term corresponds to an ethnic identity, distinguishing them from the rest of the population. Lastly, in Norway, Travellers are nowadays sedentary while the Roma move around.


The French term for Travellers is not so straightforward.  “Gens du voyage” used in France is an administrative term which has been used since the 1970s to refer both to the Roma, Sinti/Manush and Gypsies/Gitans and other non-Roma groups with a nomadic way of life.  This term actually refers to French citizens (as opposed to the term “Roma” which at official level is improperly used to refer exclusively to the Roma immigrants from eastern Europe).  The term “Voyageurs” (closer to the English “Travellers”) is used in Belgium and Switzerland. It is sometimes used by associations in France, but not in official texts or in everyday use. Like “Gens du voyage”, it can cover various ethnic groups.


Since the English term “Travellers” and the French terms “Gens du Voyage”/”Voyageurs” are not totally equivalent, it is preferable in French texts to retain the English term “Travellers” to refer to the groups living in the British Isles, and in English texts, it is recommended that the French term “Gens du voyage” be used in the context of France if it appears in an administrative document or official speech.




a  Yenish (n.)

Yenish (pl.)

Yenish (adj.)


Like the Irish Travellers, the Yenish are an indigenous non-Roma community, mainly living in Switzerland and some neighbouring countries who originally had an itinerant lifestyle.

However, like the Travellers, most Yenish (over 90%) are now sedentary. Locally, they are sometimes called Karner, Laninger, Keßler, Fecker or Spengler. They speak German, with some Romani, Latin and Hebrew loan-words.


Gadje/gadge (Non-Roma)


a gadjo (n.)

gadje/gadge (pl.)

gadje/gadge (adj.)


This term means “Non-Roma” in Romani. Unlike Roma/Sinti/Kale, the term does not denote a people, so capitalisation is not recommended. This is the name which Roma apply to those outside their community (cf. goy(im) - non-Jew(s)).  The sound represented by “dj” is rendered by a special letter in the Romani alphabet [ӡ], which explains the alternative spellings for the plural and adjectival form (gadje/gadge).


In the Iberian peninsula, the term used to designate non-Roma is “payo” (plural “payos”).



I.4Terms relating to the language


Romani / Romani language / Romanes / Rromani


Romani, or “romani ćhib” in Romani, is an Indo-European language (like Greek, the Romance, Germanic, Slav, Baltic, Celtic languages, etc.) Close to Sanskrit and relatively close to present-day Hindi, Romani belongs more specifically to the Indo-Aryan sub-branch.


Romani is a single language – it is incorrect to speak of Romani languages in the plural. It is understood by a very large proportion of European Roma, although there are numerous variants (it is better to speak of “variants” of Romani than “dialects”). These variants are due to the fact that over the centuries some groups have forgotten part of the vocabulary and have borrowed from the language of their environment (that is when they were not quite simply forbidden from speaking their language, as was the case in certain periods of history, in particular in Spain under the Catholic Kings, or under the Austro-Hungarian Empire).


In the French context, and sometimes elsewhere in Europe to distinguish the variant spoken by Eastern groups from the one spoken in the western part of Europe, the term “Romanes” (pronounced roman-ess) is quite often used for the Romani language.  In fact, it is the adverb: to speak “Romanes” means to speak “in Romani”.


The spelling “Romani” is preferable to “Romany”, although the latter still appears frequently in dictionaries or certain official documents, such as the instruments of ratification of the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages deposited by certain countries (for example, Austria, Germany, Montenegro and Serbia).


Upon ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, other states specified the Romani language by using the term “Romanes” (e.g. Finland and the Netherlands).  Nonetheless, the recommended term is “Romani”, except in the Norwegian context, where the two terms “Romani” and “Romanes” officially co-exist: “Romani”, referring to the language spoken by the “Romani/Travellers” (or Taters”) and “Romanes” referring to the language spoken by the few hundred Norwegian Roma.


The spelling “Rromani” with a double “r” is also occasionally found.  It is used in some variants of Romani and in certain institutions such as the INALCO Institute in Paris. At the Council of Europe, the preference is for a single “r”.


Some Roma communities, such as the Romungrés in Hungary, who have become totally Hungarian speaking, have practically lost the use of Romani or speak a language (a kind of hybrid language) influenced to a greater or lesser degree by the official language, e.g. the Kale in Spain (Kaló), the Sinti in the Germanic countries (Sinti or Romnepen) and the Gypsies in Britain (Anglo-Romani). To complete the picture, Lomavren is the language spoken by the Lom in Armenia (also a hybrid language) and Domari is spoken by the Dom in Turkey and the Middle East.


For many years it has been the custom to have interpreting in Romani in official Council of Europe meetings dealing with Roma issues.  Moreover, Romani is the 3rd working language of the Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (alongside English and French, the Council’s two official languages). Most of the Council of Europe’s official texts relating to the Roma have been translated into Romani and are available on the Internet.


This use of Romani during relevant international meetings is also widespread in the OSCE-ODIHR and, more recently, the European Union.


For certain specialist Council of Europe activities, such as those of the Language Policy Division focusing on the production of tools to facilitate the teaching of Romani at primary and secondary levels (adapting the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for Romani, a Curricular Framework for Romani, handbook for teachers, etc.), it was necessary to translate the documents concerned into several variants of Romani in order to meet local needs and enable these tools to be disseminated and used as widely as possible.[5]


The following are a few words in Romani which are worth knowing, most of which are mentioned elsewhere in this glossary:




I.5Newly defined term




The resolution adopted by the European Parliament in April 2005 is probably the first official text to speak (in English) of “Anti-Gypsyism/Romaphobia”. The international OSCE/EU/CoE conferences on Roma, Sinti and Travellers in Warsaw (October 2005) and Bucharest (May 2006) confirmed use of the term “Anti-Gypsyism” (“antitsiganisme” in French) at international level.


Many continental Roma prefer “Anti-Tsiganism” or “Anti-Ziganism”, which is closer to the local derivates (e.g. “Antiziganismus” in German).


The term “Romaphobia” is synonymous with Anti-Gypsyism and echoes the now current term, Islamophobia. Fearing that careless journalists may start giving us “Romaniaphobia” instead, we prefer to use the term “anti-Gypsyism” at the Council of Europe.


From around 2005, the Council of Europe has made explicit reference to “anti-Gypsyism” as a specific form of racism on a par with anti-Semitism (see the texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, and the speeches of the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights, and more recently, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues).  Back in 2005, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) already acknowledged the specific nature of the racism directed towards the Roma:


a) it is persistent both historically and geographically (permanent and not decreasing) ;

b) it is systematic (accepted by virtually all the community) ;

c) it is often accompanied by acts of violence.


In 2011, ECRI adopted a General Policy Recommendation (No. 13) on combating anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against the Roma.  This recommendation uses the definition of anti-Gypsyism proposed in 2006 by Valeriu Nicolae, the then Secretary General of ERGO (European Roma Grassroots Organisation): Anti-Gypsyism is a specific form of racism, an ideology of racial superiority, a form of dehumanisation and of institutional racism […] fuelled by historical discrimination”.[6]


If anyone objects that we are straying close to “Gypsy” and “Tsigane”, which are terms to be avoided (see the entry under “Gypsies”), our answer is that it is – and should remain – a term with a negative connotation.  The term “anti-Gypsyism” is addressed not at Roma, but at the majority, and so must be instantly clear to non-Roma.  Indeed, the word  has echoes of “anti-Semitism” and so connects quickly with the concept of racism, though we must be careful not to over-simplify and draw misleading parallels.



Chapter II: Council of Europe texts relating to Roma issues[7]


II.1Texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers


II.2Texts adopted by the parliamentary Assembly


II.3Texts adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

II.4Texts adopted by the ECRI

II.5Other texts



Chapter III: Relevant bodies and initiatives of the Council of Europe and partner organisations



III.1New Council of Europe bodies (since November 2010)





Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Roma Issues

Représentant spécial du Secrétaire Général (RSSG) pour les questions relatives aux Roms

Appointed in November 2010 by the Secretary General following the Strasbourg Declaration.

Support Team of the SRSG for Roma Issues

Equipe d’appui du RSSG pour les questions relatives aux Roms

The SRSG team enlarged to other directorates (Communication, Education, etc) in response to the need for a cross-sectoral approach, as mentioned in the Strasbourg Declaration.

Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM)

Comité d’experts ad hoc sur les questions roms (CAHROM)

Ad hoc Committee (equivalent to a Steering Committee) reporting directly to the Committee of Ministers, who adopted its terms of reference in February 2011.



III.2Former Council of Europe bodies (prior to November 2010)





Migration and Roma


Service des migrations

et des Roms

Attached to DG III Social Cohesion. Ceased to exist with effect from January 2011.

Roma and Travellers


Division des Roms et

des Gens du voyage

Attached to the Migration and Roma Department. Ceased to exist with effect from January 2011.

(CoE) Co-ordinator for

activities concerning

Roma and Travellers

Coordinateur (du CdE)

pour les activités

concernant les Roms

et les Gens du voyage

Attached to the Private Office of the Secretary General, but physically to DG III Social Cohesion.

Committee of Experts

on Roma and Travellers


Comité d’Experts sur les

Roms et les Gens du voyage


Title of the MG-S-ROM between 12 July 2006 and the end of 2010. This committee was replaced in 2011 by the CAHROM.

Group of Specialists on

Roma, Gypsies and

Travellers (MG-S-ROM)

Groupe de spécialistes

sur les Roms, Tsiganes

et Voyageurs (MG-S-ROM)

Title of the MG-S-ROM between 2002 and mid-2006.

Group of Specialists on Roma/Gypsies (MG-S-ROM)

Groupe de spécialistes sur les Roms/Tsiganes (MG-S-ROM)

Title of the MG-S-ROM between 1995 and 2002.


III.3Organisations, Associations, NGOs and Informal bodies





European Roma and

Travellers Forum


Forum européen des

Roms et des Gens du

voyage (FERV)

International NGO based in the premises of the Council of Europe.  It was established in 2004 and in December of that year it signed a partnership agreement with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Some 70-80 delegates representing Roma communities in member states or international Roma organisations attend the Forum’s annual plenary in Strasbourg. For further information, visit:


During Committee of Ministers discussions preceding the signing of the partnership agreement, the documents of the GT-ROMS working group used the title “European Forum for Roma and Travellers/Forum européen pour les Roms et les Gens du voyage”.

Forum of European

Roma Young People


Forum des jeunes

Roms européens


Established in 1996, Feryp is an international NGO based in Strasbourg (registered office at the ARPOMT Association). Feryp is a member of the ERTF (see above).

International Romani Union (IRU)

Union romani internationale (URI)

Name in use since the 2nd World Romani Congress in Geneva in 1978. When first set up in 1967, it went under the name of the International Gypsy Committee.  Following the 1st World Romani Congress in London, it was renamed the International Rom Committee. The IRU is a member of the ERTF. In 1979 it obtained consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

International Romani Women’s Network (IRWN)

Réseau international des femmes roms (IRWN)

Set up in 2003, this NGO has its headquarters in Strasbourg. It is a member of the ERTF (see above).

Roma National Congress (RNC)

Congrès national des Roms (CNR)

Umbrella organisation of Roma NGOs and representatives, a member of the ERTF.

European Roma Information Office (ERIO)

Bureau d’information européen sur les Roms (ERIO)

Based in Brussels and founded in 2003, ERIO is an organisation defending Roma rights and promoting public debate on Roma issues. ERIO plays a lobbying role with the European institutions in Brussels.

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)

Centre européen des droits des Roms (Errc)

Established in 1996 and based in Budapest, ERRC is an international organisation which seeks to fight against anti-Roma racism and defends Roma rights through the courts (ERRC has initiated numerous collective complaints under the European Social Charter), and undertakes human rights education and research work.

Decade for Roma Inclusion


Décennie pour

l’intégration / l’inclusion

des Roms

A regional initiative launched by the World Bank and the Open Society Institute (OSI)/Soros Foundation, whereby the participating countries give a political commitment to improve the socio-economic situation and social integration of the Roma over the period 2005-2015. The nine founding countries are Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia (under that name), Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and the Slovak Republic.  They have since been joined by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain (making 12 countries in total). Slovenia has observer status.  The secretariat of the Decade for Roma Inclusion is based in Budapest.


Roma Education Fund (REF)

Fonds pour l’éducation des Roms (REF)

The Roma Education Fund was set up in 2005 as part of the Decade for Roma Inclusion.  Its role is to help reduce the gap in this field between Roma and non-Roma.

Informal Contact Group

(ICG) of Intergovernmental Organisations on Roma,

Sinti and Travellers

Groupe de contact

informel des

organisations intergouvernementales

sur les Roms, les Sintés

et les Gens du voyage

This informal group has met under practically each EU presidency since the Finnish presidency of 1999 (i.e. two meetings per year). Jointly launched by the OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe with the aim of co-ordinating the activities of the international organisations on Roma issues, this group has gradually extended to various European Commission departments and to other European institutions (European Parliament, FRA), the UNHCR, the UNDP, the World Bank and, since 2006, a number of NGOs (ERTF, ERIO, ERRC, OSI). Its meetings are chaired by the country which holds the EU Presidency. The Council of Europe’s CM Chairmanship and the OSCE Presidency are also represented. Since the creation of the European Roma Platform (see below), the group’s meetings have been held in the margins of those of the Platform. A merger of the two is being discussed.

European Platform for Roma inclusion

Plateforme européenne pour l’insertion des Roms

The Platform’s first meeting was held in Prague in April 2009.  Its aim is to co-ordinate national action to combat the exclusion of the Roma in EU member states.  Since its first meeting, it has met under each EU presidency.

International Task Force on the Education of Roma (ITFER)

Task Force internationale sur l’éducation des Roms (ITFER)

A joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the OSCE/ODIHR launched in 2010 to co-ordinate international action focusing specifically on matters concerning the education of Roma. In addition to the two above-mentioned organisations, the Task Force today also comprises UNICEF, UNESCO, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee la Commission européenne, and other non-governmental organisations.

Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues (CPRSI) at the OSCE/ODIHR (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights)


Action Plan on

Improving the Situation

of Roma and Sinti

within the OSCE Area

Point de contact pour les questions roms et sintis à l’OSCE/BIDDH (Organisations pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe/Bureau pour les institutions démocratiques et les droits de l’homme)


Plan d’action visant à

améliorer la situation

des Roms et des Sintis

dans l’espace de l’OSCE

Since the mid-1990s, a body within the OSCE/ODIHR in Warsaw, specially tasked with Roma and Sinti issues.






Document adopted by the OSCE participating countries. For full text, see decision No. 566 of the Permanent Council of 27 November 2003: 


Unlike the Council of Europe, the OSCE-ODIHR officially uses “Roma and Sinti/Roms et Sintis”.


III.4Council of Europe projects and initiatives





“Education of Roma children in Europe” Project

Projet « Education des enfants roms en Europe »

A project run between 2003 and 2009 by DG IV’s Division for the European Dimension of Education. The aim of this project was to implement Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec (2000) on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe [see document CD-ED-BU (2002)13]. which is why the terms “Gypsy” and “tsigane” were kept during the first stage of the project (2003-2005).


Nonetheless, in an effort to harmonise the terminology, the Steering Committee for Education adopted the following title for the 2006-2009 stage of the project): “Education of Roma children in Europe / Education des enfants roms en Europe”. For more information about this project, visit  

European training programme for mediators (ROMED)



New title since 2012 :


ROMED Programme – Intercultural mediation for Roma

Programme européen de formation pour les médiateurs (ROMED)



Nouveau titre depuis 2012 :


Programme ROMED « Médiation interculturelle pour les Roms »

The ROMED programme was launched following the adoption of the Strasbourg Declaration.  In July 2011 it became a joint Council of Europe/European Commission action.


There are three types of approach to the mediator’s role:

The “Trojan Horse” (the mediator as an instrument of the institution, having as mission to reach out to the community with the aim of changing its attitudes and behaviours);

The community activist (a representative of the community, fighting against the institution, for the rights of the Roma);

The real intercultural mediator (has a good knowledge of the “cultural codes” of the community and of the institution, is impartial and focused on improving communication and co-operation and on stimulating both parties to take responsibilities and to be actively involved in a change process).


The Council of Europe’s ROMED programme focuses on promoting this third approach, i.e. real and effective intercultural mediation.


See also “intercultural mediation”, “health mediators”, and “school mediators” in Chapter IV, “Terms with specific uses”.

For more information on ROMED, visit 

DOSTA! Awareness-raising campaign for combating prejudice and stereotypes towards Roma










Council of Europe Dosta! campaign motto:

“Dosta! Enough! Go beyond prejudice, meet the Roma!”

Campagne de sensibilisation Dosta ! visant à lutter contre les préjugés et les stéréotypes à l’encontre des Roms









Slogan de la campagne Dosta ! du Conseil de l’Europe :

« Dosta ! Ça suffit ! Dépassons les préjugés, allons à la rencontre des Roms 

“Dosta” is a Romani word (Balkan variant) meaning “That’s enough!”.

It was chosen as the title for the awareness-raising campaign undertaken by the Council of Europe since 2006, first of all under the third joint Council of Europe/European Commission programme, entitled “Equal rights and treatment for

Roma in South Eastern Europe”, and then gradually in other member states.


The motto is often adapted to the national context.  For example, it Italy it refers to the Roma and the Sinti.  The motto of the French national campaign includes “…meet the Roma, Gypsies and Travellers” (Roms, Tsiganes et Gens du Voyage).


For further information, visit the multilingual campaign website:

Route of Roma Culture and Heritage

Itinéraire de la culture et du patrimoine des Roms

A project launched by the Council of Europe’s Directorate of Culture in Slovenia in 2010.  The aim of the Route of Roma Culture and Heritage is to increase the knowledge of people in Europe about Roma history, culture, values and lifestyle, to encourage the contribution of Roma to Europe’s cultural life and diversity and ultimately contribute to giving a positive value to an image of Roma who are, more often than not, perceived in a negative and stereotyped way. To achieve this, the Cultural Route will develop a network of organisations (associations, museums, documentation and cultural centres, art and education institutions, festivals, etc.) which work together towards developing a common set of activities.


The title “Gypsy Cultural Route” is found in Jean-Pierre Liégeois’ 1993 and 1997 reports. The new title was adopted in Brno (Czech Republic) in 2003 [ref. DGIV/EDU/ROM(2004)8]. Some texts still use the project’s first name, “Roma/Gypsy Cultural Route”.


For further information on the Roma cultural route, visit  

European Academic Network on Romani Studies


Réseau universitaire européen d’études romani

This network is a new joint Council of Europe/European Union action for a two year period (June 2011 – May 2013), to set up an academic network on Romani studies. The overall aim of the project is to facilitate intercultural dialogue and support efforts towards the social inclusion of Romani citizens in Europe. The project will raise the visibility of existing research and foster cooperation with policymakers, by providing evidence for better conceived policy initiatives. One of its key roles will be to provide references and guidance to policymakers and young researchers.


For further information on this network, visit 

Database on Roma-related policies and good practices

Base de données sur les politiques et bonnes pratiques relatives aux Roms

The setting up of a database on Roma-related policies and good practices is in response to the Strasbourg Declaration adopted on 20 October 2010 at the high-level meeting on Roma, which states:

  •        (43) Recognising the need to contribute to the implementation of these priorities through the use of good practices, expertise and available financial resources which exist at European, national, regional and local level, the member states of the Council of Europe:
    •       (44) welcome the decision of the Secretary General to re-organise resources in a transversal manner within the Council of Europe Secretariat with the task of further developing co-operation with national, regional and local authorities and international organisations in collecting, analysing, exchanging and disseminating information on policies and good practice on Roma, providing advice and support upon the request of national, regional and local authorities as well as practical assistance in the implementation of new policy initiatives, especially at the local level, and providing access to training, capacity-building and educational material;


For further information, please visit  


Chapter IV: Terms and expressions with specific uses or presenting translation difficulties


IV.1Terms relating to status and lifestyle






marchand ambulant




(internally displaced person)

- personne déplacée

- personne déplacée en interne

- personne déplacée au sein de son propre pays


kin state

Etat parent / pays de rattachement

The Roma differ from most other minorities in having no kin state in Europe and living in numerous countries (one speaks of minorities without a territory).

nomadic, itinerant



“Nomade” is often pejorative in French and should be avoided.  In English, both adjectives “nomadic” and “itinerant” are neutral. “Itinerant” as a noun, however, may also be viewed as pejorative.




Return of sedentary communities to an itinerant lifestyle.







voluntary returnee

rapatrié de plein gré



IV.2Terms relating to encampments, accommodation and facilities





camp site




Co-operative housing

coopératives de logement


do-it-yourself housing





“Encampment” is the term used when Travellers, their families and their mobile homes remain on a site for a considerable time [cf. CM Rrv(2004)14].

halting site

site de halte


informal vs. illegal settlement

camps non autorisés vs. campements interdits


minimum facilities

équipement minimal en infrastructures 

“Minimum facilities” include water, electricity, sanitation and rubbish collection [cf. CM Rec(2004)14].

mobile home

abri mobile 

A mobile home is used to refer to accommodation on wheels, usually towed (caravan), occasionally self-powered (camper van) [cf. CM Rec(2004)14].

right of encampment

droit de stationnement



Assainissement ;

infrastructures sanitaires


security of tenure

sécurité d’occupation

sécurité des droits fonciers

sécurité de maintien dans les lieux




campement (camp)

site d’accueil

In French, “quartier” is used for sedentary communities, and “campement” (or “camp”) for itinerant communities.  “Site d’accueil” can cover both.

short-stay areas

aires de passage

“Short-stay areas” are those where Travellers stop for a few days or weeks during the period when they are on the road (for a maximum period of about one month)  [cf. CM Rec(2004)14].

site vs. encampment area

aire vs. aire d’accueil

“Encampment areas” are those specially reserved or established for Travellers, including those where semi-itinerant Travellers spend the winter (maximum period of about six months). “Sites” are any sites used by Travellers, including encampment areas, traditional encampment areas and occasional sites [see CM R.(2004)14].

traditional encampment areas

aires traditionnelles de stationnement 

“Traditional encampment areas” are those habitually used by Travellers. In the case of semi-itinerant Travellers, encampment areas are places where Travellers normally spend the winter (approximatively 6 months maximum) [see CM R.(2004)14].

transit/halting site

site de transit/de halte

“Transit/halting sites” are sites to which Travellers are admitted, while waiting to be re-housed or move on [cf. CM Rec(2005)4].

water supply

point d’eau

approvisionnement en eau



IV.3Terms relating to deportation





Deportation, expulsion

- expulsion, au sens de

reconduite à la frontière; exécution de l’ordre d’expulsion [étrangers];

- bannissement [ressortissants]

Both deportation and expulsion refer to the removal of an alien from a country.


According to Robert L. Bledose and Adam Boleslaw in International Law: A Dictionary (2005) “Deportation is a procedure under [national] law that is distinct from expulsion in that it refers to aliens who have entered a state in violation of its immigration law, whereas expulsion affects all and primarily legally settled aliens.”


Expulsion, unlike deportation, can also be used to refer to the removal of individuals from a site they are (usually unlawfully) occupying, but not necessarily out of the country.


NB: Expulsion/Deportation should not be translated by the French word “déportation” which has very negative connotations and is associated with the Nazi policy of deportation to concentration and extermination camps.  It is the equivalent of “transportation” in the sense of the transportation (or deportation) of Jews during the Holocaust or in the historical sense of the deportation of convicts to a penal colony.

deportation order

interdiction du territoire






expulsion (par exemple d’un logement)


eviction order

mandat d’expulsion





See under “deportation”

non-expulsion principle

principle of non-refoulement

principe de non-refoulement





Removal is mostly used in the sense of removal from a site.


IV.4Terms relating to the situation of women and health





coerced sterilisation

stérilisation forcée


gender balance

parité hommes-femmes


gender equality

égalité des sexes


reproductive health

santé génésique



IV.5Terms relating to mediation





intercultural mediation for Roma

médiation interculturelle pour les Roms

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 people 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

employment mediators

médiateurs pour l’emploi


health mediators

médiateurs sanitaires

médiateurs de santé

The role of health mediators is to mediate between Roma patients and health professionals, provide basic health education and assist Roma communities in obtaining necessary insurance and documents [cf. CM Rec(2006)10].


They are social workers, usually of Roma origin and frequently women, and they liaise between Roma and Roma families in remote areas (neighbourhoods, villages) and public institutions (doctors, hospitals, etc.). Roma mediators operate in other areas too (such as schools and employment agencies).

school assistants and


assistants et médiateurs scolaires

According to a DG IV report (DGIV/EDU/ROM(2004)11), a distinction should be made between the two concepts: school assistants have a subordinate function which may actually perpetuate inequality between Roma and non-Roma, while the term “school mediator” implies a process involving equal parties – a process which may help to build a more balanced relationship between schools and the Roma community. Another difference: school assistants work mainly in schools and classrooms, while school mediators act as an interface between schools and the community. “Mediation” is common to both, however, since school assistants also mediate between pupils and parents.


IV.6Terms relating to history, language and culture





codification vs.

standardisation [of the Romani language]

codification  vs.

standardisation [de la langue romani]

A report [MIN-LANG (2005)19] by the Secretariat of the Charter of Regional and Minority Languages in DG I, issued after a public hearing with the European Roma and Travellers Forum, recommends that “standardisation” (of the Romani language), which may suggest “unification” and “assimilation”, be avoided and that “codification” be used instead.

Roma genocide

Roma Holocaust

génocide des Roms Holocauste des Roms


In Romani, there are several terms to refer to the genocide of the Roma carried out by the Nazis (depending on communities and linguistic variants): “Samudaripe(n)” “Phar(r)aj(i)mos” or “Por(r)ajmos”.


“Samudaripe(n)” means “murder of everyone”, and is reminiscent of the Jewish term “Shoah” (“destruction”).


“Phar(r)aj(i)mos” and “Por(r)ajmos” means “that which devours”.


In the most recent Council of Europe texts, the term “Roma genocide” is used more frequently than “Roma Holocaust”, followed in most cases by the two terms in Roman, “Samudaripen/Pharrajimos”.


In all, it is estimated that some 500,000 Roma and Sinti were exterminated in World War 2, which in percentage terms makes them the ethnic group most affected by the Nazi massacres. Over 90% of the Roma population in certain countries were exterminated by the fascist regimes.


On the night of 2 to 3 August alone, 2,897 Roma and Sinti, primarily old men, women and children, were massacred in the Zigeunerlager (“Gypsy camp”) of the Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp (and at least 23,000 Roma and Sinti were gassed in this camp during the Second World War).

August 2 was therefore chosen by Roma organisations and a number of member states to commemorate all the Roma and Sinti victims of this period.


For more information, visit the joint Council of Europe/OSCE site: (in particular, the interactive map).


IV.7Terms relating to policies






- autonomisation ;

- responsabilisation ;

- renforcement de l’autonomie ;

- émancipation


good practice

bonne pratique

The Council of Europe, particularly in its database on Roma-related policies and good practices, has adopted the following definition of good practice:


“A good practice is defined as anything that has been tried and shown to work in some way - whether fully or in part but with at least some evidence of effectiveness - and that may have implications for practice at any level elsewhere. Three possible levels of good practice flow from this: promising practices, demonstrated practices, and replicated (or best) practices” (Olivier Serrat).

promising practices

pratiques prometteuses

Promising practices are projects or initiatives which are deemed to be good practices but for which no evidence or evaluation reports have been found to validate their effectiveness on the ground.

demonstrated practices

pratiques éprouvées

Demonstrated practices are transferable, innovative and long-term-oriented projects which have been identified as being good practices following multi-sectoral evaluations including by the beneficiaries, and validated as such by persons external to the project.

reproduced (or best) practices

pratiques reproduites (ou meilleures)

Reproduced practices are demonstrated practices which, in addition, have been replicated at other levels (local, regional, national or in another country).

outreach measures

mesures ciblées


targeted policies

politiques ciblées


umbrella organisation

organisation faîtière


Federal or national organisation covering a series of smaller non-governmental organisations.




Contact persons for the glossary:


French Translation Department:

Claire Pedotti ([email protected])


English Translation Department:

Alan McDonald ([email protected])


Support team of the SRSG for Roma issues:

Michael Guet ([email protected])


Directorate of Education / Support team of the SRSG for Roma issues:

Aurora Ailincai ([email protected])


[1] For further details on their migration path and the first written traces of their settlement in each country, and also on the policies pursued regarding the Roma, see Roma in Europe, by Jean-Pierre Liégeois (Council of Europe Publishing); see also the Roma history factsheets published by the Council of Europe and available online at:

[2] The lyrics of the anthem, together with an English translation can be found on

[3] The Roma flag represents a people and not a state with defined borders. The colour blue symbolises the sky, freedom, spirituality, what is eternal; green symbolises nature, the earth, fertility and the tangible aspects of life.  The red 16-spoke wheel symbolises not only the horse-drawn caravan, travelling, growth and progress, but also refers to the Indian origin of the Roma, their “motherland” from where they migrated as early as the 9th century, since the wheel is inspired by the chakra, found on the Indian flag, which has 24 spokes just like the number of hours in a day. [source: Council of Europe factsheets on the Roma].

[4] See the table of estimates on

[5] For further details, see

[6] The full definition can be found on:

[7] All these texts are available on line at: