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Annual Review 2002

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As world attention in 2002 focused on the impending war in Iraq, it was often forgotten that some 20 further wars were already underway in other parts of the world. In two-thirds of these armed conflicts, violence was targeted at specific ethnic or religious groups, including in Central Africa and the Horn, and in South and South-East Africa, regions of the world where Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is particularly active. Yet many of these conflicts could have been prevented, if minority and indigenous rights had been respected.

Improving the lives of minorities and indigenous peoples, and fostering cooperation between communities are complex aims, however. Local or national governments, or bodies such as the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU), have to be persuaded to act. Their decisions have to be implemented, and the effect on people’s lives carefully monitored. For every success we register, any efforts to improve human rights will be in vain.

For a small organization like MRG, with limited resources and tight budgets, it is therefore important to learn which of our activities have the greatest impact. Tracing the causes and effects of improvements in the situation on the ground is not easy, and showing that human rights violations have actually been prevented is harder still, particularly as it can sometimes take years for our efforts to bear fruit. But understandably, donors and supporters increasingly want to see the work of human rights organizations leading to concrete results.

This annual report provides examples of the impact of MRG’s work, based on direct feedback from minority and indigenous communities, assessing the growth of minority-led activities, and tracking changes in policy and legislation. First, we feature our work to train and support partner organizations around the world who represent minorities and indigenous peoples, building their capacity to be effective advocates for the rights of their communities. Then we look at how we have been able to contribute to strengthening international standards that protect minority and indigenous rights.

This annual review highlights ways in which our work has made a real difference to people who are excluded or oppressed, or who live poorer, more difficult or more limited lives, simply because of their ethnicity, language or religion.

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