Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of

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Persistent violations
  • Child trafficking[1]
  • Discrimination against Roma children [2]
  • Domestic violence [3]
  • Corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited in all settings [4]
  • The increasing infant mortality rate [5]
  • The growing number of children in street situations, particularly Roma children [6]
  • The limited access of young people to sexual and reproductive health services and the high number of abortions and unwanted teenage pregnancies, in particular among Roma girls [7]
Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee against Torture, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee against Torture
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights



Introduction

A landlocked country in the central Balkan peninsula, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia borders Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. Breaking away from the collapsing Yugoslav State in 1990, Macedonia avoided the worst of the resulting Balkan wars and now operates as a multi-party democracy, where a ceremonial president of the republic works as prime minister. Human rights issues often centre around ethnic minorities - particularly treatment of the ethnic Albanian and Roma communities - as well as domestic violence against children and child trafficking.


Geography

The Republic of Macedonia, admitted to the UN as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia following a dispute with Greece over the name, is a landlocked country in the central Balkan peninsula. Macedonia is bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. Skopje is the capital city.

Population and language

The population of Macedonia rose significantly following its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, rising by a little over five per cent between 1990 and 2000. In the past five years, however, population growth has slowed to a near halt, with the UNDP estimating the growth rate to have fallen from 0.13 per cent in 2006 to 0.04 per cent in 2010 [1]. As of December 2010, the population was 2,057,84 and included 478,287 children[2]. Census data indicates that of the total population, around 64 per cent considered themselves ethnically Macedonian, and 25 per cent Albanian. The remaining 11 per cent is largely made up of those self-identifying as Turks, Romas, Vlachs, Serbs or Bosniaks [3].

Macedonian is spoken by 70 per cent of the population, Albanian by 21 per cent with sizable minorities also speaking Turkish and Serbo-Croatian [4].

Politics

National independence from Yugoslavia was declared in September 1991. Although the country remained at peace through the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, the Kosovo war of 1999 caused some political instability as a result of strength of feeling among the large number of Macedonians who are ethnically Albanian, as well as the influx of large numbers of refugees. National tensions flared again in 2001 with the Albanian insurgency, a brief internal war between the National Liberation Army and Macedonian security forces. The conflict ended with the Ohrid Framework Agreement in August of the same year, and ultimately led to a new system of laws protecting the rights of minorities.

The national political system takes the form of a parliamentary democracy, with a unicameral legislature (the Assembly) elected by popular vote every four years. The Assembly enacts laws and chooses the government. The party with the majority of elected representatives forms a government. The President is the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces, and is responsible for appointing the Prime Minister. Neither the Prime Minister nor any other minister may be a member of the Assembly.

The Macedonian political sphere is made up of a number of political parties, the largest of which are the Macedonian Internal Revolutionary Movement (VMRO), the Social Democratic Alliance (SDSM), the Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (DPMNE), the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) and the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI). The 2008 elections saw the VMRO-DPMNE led coalition win a small majority of Assembly seats while the 2009 Presidential elections led to the coalition's candidate, Gjorgje Ivanov being elected President.

Economy

Following independence, in 1991, Macedonia was the least economically developed country of the Yugoslav republics, producing around five per cent of the the federal output of goods and services. Upon the collapse of Yugoslavia, Macedonia no longer received payments from the central government, and ceased to receive the advantages that came with being part of a de facto free trade bloc. The low level of infrastructure, combined with UN sanctions on Serbia and a Greek trade embargo over the country's name, continued to hinder growth until 1996[5]. The 1999 Kosovo refugee crisis, in which hundred of thousands of ethnically Albanian people took refuge in Macedonia, also created economic difficulties. Although the national economy has been relatively stable since, it has lagged behind regional competitors, with low levels of foreign investment and high levels of unemployment (estimated to be as high as 31.7 per cent). Since 2006, a number of economic reforms have taken place under the control of the new government, with an emphasis on attracting Foreign Direct Investment and enhancing the business climate. The GDP grew by around five per cent in 2007 and 2008, and the limited involvement of domestic banking in the international markets insulating the Macedonian economy from the world financial crisis[6].

Media and civil society

In its review of civil society in Macedonia, CIVICUS found a moderately well developed system in operation. While their report found good levels of sectoral organisation and networking, it found unsustainably low levels of human resources. The report found that civil society activity was having a moderate level of impact, but that there was a low level of civic engagement. Civil society has shown particular interest, and has had considerable success in areas of human rights and equality, but less progress has been made in pressing social issues such as poverty and unemployment.

Children's rights

Perhaps the foremost area of concern with regards to the rights of children lies in the treatment of minority groups, in particularly the Roma community. According to 2002 census data, the Roma population numbered some 53,879 out of a total population of 2,022,547[7]. However, other sources - mainly NGOs - estimate the Roma population to be considerably higher (200,000 – 260,000), attributing the discrepancy to the low birth registration rate among Roma and identification of some Roma with other ethnic groups[8]. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has consistently raised the issue of direct and indirect discrimination against Roma children. Infant mortality as well as rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion, are significantly higher for children from Roma backgrounds, while rates of school enrolment are lower, but disproportionately high in schools for those with special educational needs. The Committee has consistently recommended that the Macedonian government take steps to address these concerns [9].

Footnotes:

  1. UN DESA (2009d). "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision". New York: Department for Economic and Social Affairs
  2. State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia, "Estimation of population: 30.06.2010 – 30.12.2010, according gender, municipalities and statistical regions" – NTES - 3 -2007, August 2011
  3. National Census 2002(Last census- 2002)
  4. World Bank
  5. CIA World Factbook [1] Macedonia Country Profile
  6. UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Macedonia
  7. National Census 2002(Last census- 2002)
  8. European Public Health Alliance
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations to Macedonia, June 2010]

Sources:


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