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MRG statement to the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council (Item 5)

16 March 2011

Human Rights Council 
16th Session, 15th March 2010
Item 5

Thank you Mr. President. I speak on behalf of Minority Rights Group International.

MRG welcomes the work of the Forum on Minority Issues and the recommendations presented to the Council by the Independent Expert, Ms Gay McDougall.

We would like to highlight the importance of the Forum. It is a unique body which provides the opportunity for some of the world’s most marginalized groups to attend the UN and enter into constructive dialogue with governments. We welcome the high levels of engagement in the Forum by Governments, minorities and other UN agencies and mechanisms. The high number of participants reflects the importance attached to the themes under discussion, yet the two-day duration means that opportunities for input by both governments and minorities are limited. We therefore urge the Council to increase the duration of the Forum to a minimum of 3 days.

We thank the Independent Expert for her guidance of the Forum and highlight that the first three sessions of the Forum have resulted in the elaboration of valuable recommendations for the effective implementation of minority rights related to that theme. We urge states and NGOs to make use of these recommendations to benefit minorities and ensure respect for their rights. We welcome the follow up work of the Independent Expert in this regard and recommend that the Forum looks into possible ways of strengthening this aspect of its work, possibly through devoting one session to addressing implementation of the recommendations of previous sessions.

Finally we urge member states to support the Forum through providing it with financial resources to effectively carry out its work. We also highlight that the participation of minorities in the Forum is essential to its effective work and we therefore recommend the establishment of a Voluntary Fund to facilitate this participation.

Thank you Mr. President.