Social Inclusion

Social inclusion is a process that allows those who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion to gain the opportunities and resources needed for full participation in economic, social and cultural life, and to achieve the prosperity and living standards that are considered acceptable in the society where they are living. Social inclusion ensures greater citizen participation in making decisions that affect their lives and the realization of basic rights.

In October 2011 CEDEM was elected as a national partner organization of the Open Society Institute (OSI) in Budapest for the implementation of the "PGF Montenegro", which aims to strengthen the capacity of Roma NGOs and members of the RAE community to write proposals and project cycle management, with special emphasis on projects funded by the European Union. In addition, the CEDEM Social Inclusion Department is involved in the preparation of the project and inclusion of RAE population at the local level, which will be implemented in three municipalities in Montenegro. The aim of the project is to improve the economic status and living conditions for the target population, through active recruitment and improvement of infrastructure in Roma settlements.


Screenshot 2020 08 19 at 14.25.19

Respect for basic human rights and the protection of national minorities are fundamental factors in the stability and socio-economic development of any state. The principle of respect for uniqueness within unity and unity within diversity is defined at the level of the European Union as a clear integration condition, which manifests the degree of protection of minority rights and preservation of their identity, and thus the degree of democracy in a country.
According to the Constitution, Montenegro is a civic, ecological state of social justice, inhabited by different ethnic groups characterized by their identity, culture, religion and artistic heritage. Despite the differences between these ethnic groups and the fact that no ethnic group makes up the majority of the population, Montenegro has developed a model of coexistence based on general interethnic tolerance and constitutional guarantees for the protection of minority rights.
However, such ethnic heterogeneity, along with differences in religion, gender, politics and other, carries a certain risk of conflict and affects the existence of discriminatory attitudes and practices that may disavow the application of adopted legal standards and jeopardize political and social consensus on essential issues of democratic country development. Therefore, continuous monitoring of the phenomenon of discrimination and perception of the degree of discrimination on various grounds, as well as monitoring the implementation of regulations and assessing their impact on the creation of an equal society are an integral part of minority policy.
With this in mind, CEDEM regularly conducts research that seeks to point out certain changes in the political, legal and social field, but also persistent challenges and shortcomings that affect the protection of the rights of minority peoples and minority national communities. The research conducted by CEDEM within the said project included the following segments: a) analysis of the domestic legal framework for the protection of the rights of minority peoples and minority national communities, with reference to international legal documents and comparative practice; b) secondary data analysis through which new hypotheses are set based on the same data sets; and c) a meta-analysis that combined and synthesized different mutually independent studies, integrating their results into a common, unique result. Methodological objectives and instruments have been set to provide an adequate volume of data in relevant areas to make the research epistemologically valid.
Relevant indicators used for the research show that the position of minority peoples and communities has improved (both in terms of quantitative indicators and in relation to the implementation of measures of competent institutions), but that there are still legal shortcomings related to the implementation of multiethnicity policy. and multiculturalism, as well as problems in exercising constitutionally guaranteed rights. This primarily refers to the absence of legal solutions that elaborate the application of affirmative action measures, especially in the field of political representation of the Roma community, as one of the smallest, but socially and economically most vulnerable minority communities in Montenegro.
Namely, in the normative-political sense, Montenegro is undertaking efforts in terms of establishing a normative-legal framework for the protection of minority rights and the implementation of the policy of multiculturalism. The relevant legal framework consists of international agreements, the Constitution guaranteeing the protection of the rights and freedoms of minority peoples and other minority national communities and a set of legal regulations in certain areas: health, education, social and child protection, housing.
The Constitution also contains a provision on supremacy and direct application of international legal norms in relation to domestic legislation. It should be noted that there are numerous provisions in international documents that refer to minorities, but not generally accepted international standards, nor universal rules according to which the rights of minorities are clearly regulated, except for the prohibition of discrimination and the generally formulated right to preserve ethnic and religious identity. When it comes to the protection of minority rights within the EU, the norms related to this area of ​​human rights do not have their direct basis in EU legislation, which sets certain limits in assessing the degree of realization of these rights, especially in countries aspiring to EU membership.
Although the analysis did not reveal major legal shortcomings, ie collisions with international standards, but more needs for certain constitutional - legal concepts and guarantees to be operationalized and concretized through appropriate legal norms, field research indicated the need for more efficient application of minority policies in practice. The reasons for this are multiple: vagueness / indeterminacy of formulations of certain legal standards, socio-cultural environment in which minority policy is implemented, but also the influence of economic factors, and the effect of individual characteristics of citizens on ethnic distancing.

The statistics that provide data at the municipal level, which were also analyzed during the survey, provided an additional look at the factors influencing ethnic distance. For this purpose, the so-called intraclass correlation coefficient which showed that municipalities, as specific environments, have a strong effect on ethnic distancing. To obtain valid data, each indicator was controlled via key demographic variables, using hierarchical linear modeling. According to the obtained data, the municipalities that are characterized by the highest degree of ethnic distancing are Plav, Savnik, Andrijevica and Berane.
This effect is most pronounced when it comes to ethnic distancing from those who declare themselves as Serbs, more precisely, almost 25% of distancing in relation to this ethnic group depends on the municipality in which people live, and not on their personal characteristics. A high percentage in this regard was also recorded when it comes to Montenegrins, while in relation to Albanians and Roma, it was determined that no municipal characteristics affect the degree of ethnic distancing towards members of these minority communities. When it comes to ethnic distancing from Croats, it was concluded that the increase in cultural capital in the municipality can, as expected, lead to a decrease in ethnic distance towards members of this community. Indicatively, the increase in the economically active population in the municipalities reduces the ethnic distance towards Montenegrins and Serbs, but increases it in relation to Bosniaks and Muslims.
In the second part of the research, a qualitative analysis of the content of 54 published documents on national minorities and issues of discrimination was conducted. The total extension of this material included over 1200 pages of various formats, from which 20 focused codes were obtained by applying the open coding procedure.
Most of the narratives concerning minority rights are, in fact, the protection of minorities. In the narrative itself about the protection of the rights of minorities, the rights that minorities have are most often spoken of in general, and conventions that need to be insisted on in order to respect those rights.
The analysis of available reports and materials indicated normative shifts in terms of protection against discrimination, but also from the point of view of the application of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Namely, the Advisory Board noted the general progress in the legislative and institutionalized sense, as well as in terms of collecting data on persons with unresolved civil status and strengthening the system of financial support to minority councils and communities. The practice of using the language and script, as well as the education of members of minorities in their script, was assessed as correct.
Also, the efforts of Montenegro aimed at strengthening intercultural relations and social cohesion were noted. According to the relevant institutions, there is a good legal framework, including the institution of the Ombudsman, as well as legislation that prohibits and sanctions discrimination on various grounds. Funding for cultural projects and consultative mechanisms of minority communities (together with various state sources of funding open to national minorities) has been raised to a higher level compared to the previous period.
One of the most common codes is the one related to Roma and Egyptians and which includes a large number of contents related to the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro and other strategic approaches and documents aimed at improving the position of members of the Roma and Egyptian communities. These findings are in line with the results of the legal analysis and indicate the need to create normative conditions for the political representation of Roma.
Based on the results of all three research segments, two priority areas for action have been defined. The first area includes employment (citizens clearly indicate that discrimination is very present in this area), ie adequate representation of members of minority peoples and minority national communities in the public sector, but also in other sectors. The second priority, ie a problem that requires urgent solution, is the problem of discrimination against political dissidents, which is present in Montenegrin society, as well as the possibility of facilitating the representation of all ethnic communities in bodies that make the most important political decisions. in Parliament). This requires certain applications at the normative level, primarily through appropriate changes and adjustments to the Law on the Election of Councilors and Deputies.
In addition, it is necessary to work on strengthening the underdeveloped political and general habitus of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro, which is conditioned by an underdeveloped political organization, which prevents this community from articulating and effectively representing its rights, nor from exerting appropriate pressure on functionally functioning institutions in charge of protecting their rights. In that sense, enviable progress has been made in recent years in the formation and operation of various NGOs that bring together members of the Roma and Egyptian communities and actively advocate for the protection of their rights, but these organizations still lack adequate visibility and support of Montenegrin society and state, neither materially nor professionally.

A significant shortcoming is the fact that the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro 2016-2020, adopted in March 2016, does not prioritize the political representation of this community and the inclusion of its members in public affairs (res publica). On the other hand, NRIS, as a strategic framework of the EU until 2020, recommends that the social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians include, among other things, the active participation of the Roma and Egyptian communities in the public life of countries.
In the end, we conclude that for the full affirmation of the rights of minorities, a systemic approach is necessary that will enable more efficient realization and protection of the rights of minority peoples and minority national communities, and which goes beyond the normative efforts undertaken by the state. It is especially important that local governments take greater responsibility for the implementation of local public policies, and that they promote a democratic culture and develop a proactive approach to multiethnic governance.

The publication is available at this link  and was published as part of the project "Strengthening the system for a society of equal rights", which is supported by the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights.


The publication can be downloaded on the link:


We have published a Guide to legal and institutional protection against discrimination, outlining key legal and institutional anti-discrimination mechanisms analyzed through the umbrella Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, with examples from domestic law and court practice other countries and the European Court of Human Rights.

The guide is part of the project “Empowerment of professional capacity to combat discrimination against persons with disabilities”, implemented by CEDEM, in collaboration with the Center for Anti-Discrimination “EQUISTA” and supported by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights.