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Reaction to the report of the UN Independent Expert on minorities in the post-2015 development agendas – Human Rights Council – 25th Session

19 March 2014

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Minority Issues (item 3)

Human Rights Council, 25th Session, 3-28 March 2014
Statement given by Glenn Payot, Geneva Representative, MRG

Thank you Mister President, Madam Independent Expert,

As you rightly stressed in your report, minorities often face higher rates of poverty, ill-health and under-development than the rest of the population. They often suffer from state discrimination, social exclusion and structural barriers preventing their equal access to education, health, employment and other means of development. It is high time for the community of states to tackle this reality, and MRG shares your view that the discussions surrounding the new Development Goals constitute a unique opportunity to make sure that, this time, minorities will not be left behind.

Your report lays the ground for a better identification of the specific protection gaps and needs of minority groups, and provides food for thought about ways to address them.

The critical need for the UN to address discrimination towards minorities and indigenous peoples in the development of the new generation of Goals is tragically illustrated by the inequalities between minorities and majorities in matter of access to health. MRG released a report last year showing that ill-health and poor health care are often consequences of discrimination. Indeed, in Africa, Asia and the Americas, the maternal mortality rate is generally much higher among indigenous and minority communities, particularly those in remote areas. Women and girls from marginalized communities in Kenya and across East Africa, who are subjected to harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage, are at high risk from serious obstetric problems. The report also shows that in Europe, Roma children have less access to vaccines and have higher infant mortality rates. Inequality in such a fundamental, vital field cannot be left unaddressed. States have to give special attention to the fate of minorities when designing their development agendas.

Madam Independent Expert,

The regional consultation held by the OHCHR in Bangkok in 2012 concluded that “the UN should see minorities very much as partners, rather than purely as beneficiaries“. MRG strongly believes that the participation of minorities in the shaping of the new Goals, but also in their regional, national and local applications will be key to their success. Part of the solution to solve issues as complex as poverty reduction or better health and education lies in the active involvement of minorities, who are often among those most concerned. This involvement of minority representatives is instrumental both to tailor locally-relevant solutions, and to promote their implementation by developing a sense of ownership among the affected communities. Minority women should be fully part of these processes. In that respect, MRG is encouraged by the Report of the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which recommends placing the fight against inequalities at the heart of the post-2015 agenda.

To conclude, MRG would like to thank the Independent Expert for her work on this important issue, and encourages her to continue to promote actively the participation of minorities in this process and the adoption of a rights-based approach to development. MRG furthermore calls on states to take into due consideration the situation of marginalized and disadvantaged minorities, in order to devise, with them, fully inclusive development policies, leaving no one behind.