Ethnopolitics 16(5) pp 431-449

This study analyses the position of Roma people in the former Yugoslavia using state and civil society discourse on human rights implementation. It reveals that states are failing to give sufficient prioritisation to tackling longstanding discrimination and oppression. Instead of positive the effects predicted by complementarity theory, the findings reveal ‘frame dis-alignment’ between political elites and NGOs. This raises questions of legitimation and performativity in human rights practice. States’ failure to fully engage with NGOs’ policy claims effectively renders Roma people ‘semi-citizens’. Systemic reform by government is required in order to promote equal citizenship through civil society engagement in rights implementation.