Annual Review 2001
In 2001, MRG’s work was needed more than ever as the tragic events of the year produced fresh challenges for minority rights.
In Central Africa and Indonesia, we drew attention to continuing grave abuses of minority rights and analysed the prospects for peace. In South-East Europe, we pushed for international efforts to resolve conflict in Macedonia and to continue community building in other countries of the former Yugoslavia. In Central and Eastern Europe we worked with Roma-led organizations to support the development of a new generation of Roma activists. Throughout the year, in Geneva, Strasbourg, Durban and New York, we supported minority and indigenous rights leaders from around the world to make their arguments to governments and international policymakers at the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe and other intergovernmental organizations.
The new international agenda in place at the close of the year brought further concerns: the danger of setting aside human rights standards in pursuit of the ‘war against terrorism’, the potential wholesale characterization of excluded communities as ‘terrorists’, and increasing incidences of xenophobia and racism. Yet the attacks of 11 September 2001 and the war in Afghanistan also prompted an international debate about many fundamental minority and indigenous rights issues. These have included: the consequences of excluding communities; and the extremes of inequality within and between states – and the impact this may have in generating and sustaining conflict.
In addressing these new and continuing challenges, MRG has focused on:
- increasing the participation of minorities and indigenous peoples in decisions that affect their lives;
- strengthening and implementing international law protecting the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples;
- promoting the role of minority rights in preventing conflict; and
- ensuring that minorities and indigenous peoples benefit from national and international development policies.
Examples of our work in these areas are described in the following pages. It is work that depends on the very different contributions of a wide range of people around the world: the dedication of human rights defenders, the imagination of policy-makers, the open-mindedness of individuals in government, and the commitment of our donors. Above all, it depends on the initiative and courage of our partners in minority and indigenous peoples’ organizations, often working against overwhelming odds.