Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
Coordinated Public Action on Racism in Development
This evaluation considered MRG’s work to set up and maintain a global database of the world’s minorities and indigenous peoples between 2005 and 2008. Linked to the database were a series of publications – 3 editions of the State of the World’s Minorities – as well as some short publications, media work and a number of public campaigns on minority issues around the world.
The evaluation found that the database was a high quality and useful product that had helped MRG influence at least some decision makers to include minority groups better in their development efforts. It found that MRG had exceeded the targets for reaching the general public through the media although the number of media stories carried and their spread was more limited than had been hoped. It also found that the numbers of people reached through the public campaigns was much lower than planned, although part of the reason for this was the result of delays in recruiting staff and delivery of the text for the database which had knock on effects.
“[The programme objectives] were always going to be extremely difficult to achieve in their scale (the large number of development actors) and depth (actual policy change or reported heightened awareness); with the delays in the project, and the little time devoted to sustained campaigning, they became even more so. However, there is evidence that the project, especially in providing a greater information underpinning to MRGI’s broader work, has helped contribute to identifiable policy change in at least two UN agencies:
- MRGI’s Director sits on a small working group helping UNDP to develop, for the first time, an organization-wide policy on minorities and development, set to be a step-change in the way UNDP views minorities.
- UNICEF has recently commissioned MRGI to conduct an internal review of the organization’s global programming on minorities, in which around half of all its country office programmes will be reviewed.
These are the first international organizations to form corporate policies on minorities in development, and thus the MRGI influence is very significant.
Government-level influence has also been obtained. As a direct result of MRGI’s work (advocacy and information) for the more effective participation of minorities in decision-making, the Iraqi government in 2008 overturned a previous decision to remove the reserved seating arrangements for minorities in provincial government. This move, for which MRGI was the main advocate in Iraq and internationally, will go some way to ensuring the better protection of minority interests at provincial level.”
In summary, the report concludes:
“… the project has helped contributed to important policy changes in some key international organizations, put minority rights more firmly on the map of some key institutions and prepared the ground to achieve influence over policy-making in the future. It has contributed to increased media and some public awareness of minority rights and discrimination in development, notably through the individual campaigns and two key outputs – the online Directory and the SWM.”
Download evaluation: Coordinated Public Action on Racism in Development
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