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Looking back on the past 4 years working with minorities and indigenous peoples

18 October 2021

By Cécile Clerc, Director of Development & Partnerships at Minority Rights Group 

In my fundraising role, believe me or not… I am not always raising money. I mean, I spend most of my time raising funding for all our much needed projects around the world, but I also make sure that I keep donors informed about the great work MRG is doing daily. 

As part of this exercise, I recently worked on drafting a report on what we implemented and achieved over our last strategic period, covering 2017-2020. 

I must say I really enjoyed writing this report: this was not because for once my work had a ‘creative’ dimension as I selected pictures, suggested format, etc. Indeed, I barely look at pictures or decide on which colour to use for a title when I write a 40-page proposal to a governmental agency (trust me on that one!). 

What was a real emotion (and yes, I did feel emotional) was to look back at all that we achieved in four years, realising all these real changes we managed to generate and which have meant so much for minority and indigenous communities worldwide. 

Writing this report, I went beyond the ‘targets’ we had set ourselves and saw faces. Abou’s face (the protagonist of our amazing documentary Stolen Fish) as he shared with us the details of his journey from West Africa to the shores of Tenerife. I remembered the faces of the members of the Batwa community from Rwanda my colleague Felicien had sent me, which he had taken during the food distribution our local partners organised to help the community in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and which we supported. 

I went beyond our (then) ‘two main objectives’ to remember the joy we had all felt back in 2018 as we secured a ground-breaking decision that provided major support for the victims of slavery in Mauritania for the application of the anti-slavery legislation which criminalised this inhuman and degrading treatment; relived the relief we felt on 21 September 2017 when the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of an investigative team to support Iraq’s domestic efforts to hold ISIS accountable for acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in the country. MRG has been active in forcing accountability and had specifically been advocating for an international mechanism to support the such processes for serious violations committed in Iraq.

Now, let’s be honest: it has not always been easy or smooth. The year 2020 will probably remain, in my colleagues’ minds and mine, the most complicated year of this strategic period. Even before that, we had faced other obstacles, including the closing down of a much needed programme in Yemen due to the outbreak of war. 

It is clear that we don’t always succeed in what we aim to achieve. But it cannot be said that we are not trying. Hand in hands with local partners, from Uganda to Nepal, we work hard to ensure that the human rights of minority and indigenous communities are respected. 

I invite you to read this report (and not only for the pictures!). Have a look, especially at the case studies presented: they will give you a real glimpse of what MRG does on the ground. 

Right. Time to go back to the other half of my day-to-day job… i.e. raising money. On that note, will you help me

Now more than ever, we need your support to ensure that we can implement our vital programmes. We closed our 2017-2020 strategy period with many successes, but our new aims and objectives build on those and go further (2021-2024 strategy). Have a read! 


Our new report is all about how we implemented our 2017-2020 strategy. Click here to discover it. 

Photo credit: Cécile Clerc/MRG.

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