Minority Rights Group (MRG) conducts advocacy in a variety of settings, whether at the national, regional or international levels.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is the act of influencing decisions taken by people in authority. In the case of MRG, this is to ensure that decisions that affect minority and indigenous communities comply with international standards.

Advocacy can be done in informal meetings in the corridors of national parliaments or international institutions. It can also occur in more formal processes, such as through participation in meetings and consultations. Advocacy can take other forms, such as via written statements, longer submissions and petitions.

How do we work?

Our primary focus is on providing support for the advocacy efforts of minority and indigenous community representatives. MRG seeks to ensure that their voices are heard in contexts where decisions are taken that affect their communities. Most of our international advocacy takes place at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the European institutions and the United Nations (UN).

A 7-week online course called ‘Minority Rights Advocacy Toolkit’ was designed to facilitate an understanding of minority rights concepts and how to apply minority rights mechanism to protect the rights of persons belonging to minorities. Learn more about the course >

 We provide advice and coaching on how to navigate the structures of regional and international institutions. We assist with registration and provide other logistical support. We can sometimes provide funding for attendance as well as small grants to fund the research and writing of submissions to regional and UN human rights mechanisms. We organise training events for minority and indigenous activists to prepare them for their attendance at the UN. We also arrange side-events to provide platforms for our minority and indigenous partners. A particular focus of our work is to ensure as inclusive representation as possible, with participation by minority and indigenous women, LGBTQI+ persons, persons with disabilities and youth being a priority.

MRG conducts its own advocacy by advising governments and international agencies on international minority and indigenous peoples’ rights standards. We work closely with other human rights NGOs, often in broad coalitions. As can be seen below, we regularly make oral and written statements at the ACHPR and the UN Human Rights Council, commenting on countries and urgent issues related to minority and indigenous peoples’ rights.

A key characteristic of our advocacy is that it is nearly always conducted along with other activities. For instance, if we are pursuing litigation on behalf of a minority or indigenous community, we will also support its representatives in their advocacy as well as conduct our own, publish related reports as well as seek to draw the attention of media to the issues confronting that community. All this is done in close consultation with our minority and indigenous partner organizations. The activities are selected only if they are appropriate, depending for instance on the security implications for our partners.

Does our advocacy make a difference?

Every year, we look back on all our advocacy efforts to measure impact. We can do this by reviewing the legislation, resolutions, policies and reports that we have sought to influence. We record positive changes in the texts that match the recommendations that our partners and we have made. And yes, we do make a difference. We regularly identify many instances where the language we have suggested has been included influential documents. We can also track when governments and international institutions have expressed their concern following our alerts.

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