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Advocating for minority voices: Strengthening the UN Forum on Minority Issues

22 March 2024

At the 55th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on 21 March 2024, Glenn Payot, representing Minority Rights Group, expressed gratitude to the Chair and Special Rapporteur Levrat while welcoming the report of the UN Forum on Minority Issues. Emphasizing the importance of this forum as a space for minority voices, Payot advocated for its preservation, expansion and the extension of its duration. He also highlighted the need for regional minority forums and condemned reprisals against minority representatives.

Thank you Chair, Special Rapporteur Levrat,

Minority Rights Group welcomes the report of the 16th session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues. This Forum remains a unique space for minority representatives and minority rights defenders to make their voices heard, contribute in policy discussions on matters that affect them, and create alliances, networks and solidarity movements. The Minority Forum is often a transformative and empowering experience for its participants.

This unique space must be preserved, strengthened and expanded.

In the past years, we have witnessed increasing interest in the Forum from minority representatives and minority rights defenders. We welcome the possibility for remote participation, which has considerably increased the accessibility of the Forum and its inclusivity. That growing interest and increased participation point to the need to have the Forum expanded, and we strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s call for a one-day extension of the Forum.

We also welcome the Special Rapporteur’s will to continue to hold and consolidate regional minority forums, to complement and feed into the work of the annual UN Forum. We urge states to support these regional forums, that can play an important role by bringing these discussions closer to local contexts, by looking at regional and sub-regional specificities and by further promoting the implementation of minority rights and of the Forum’s recommendations.

Mister Chair,

Over the years, numerous minority representatives have faced reprisals on account of their attendance at the Minority Forum.

We join others today to pay tribute to Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli and to all human rights defenders, witnesses and victims who have faced reprisals for their cooperation with the United Nations. We call on all governments to do their utmost to prevent, address and punish reprisals and to hold perpetrators accountable.

I thank you.

Watch the statement


Glenn Payot

UN Advocacy Consultant

Minority Rights Group