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Economic Exclusion and Discrimination: The Experiences of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples

16 August 2003

This issues paper aims to evaluate the link between economic exclusion and discrimination against ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples.

Non-discrimination is one of the most fundamental human rights recognized in international law and most national constitutions, yet discrimination against minorities persists. This implies huge costs for individuals and communities that are discriminated against and society in general.

Although, as the authors of this paper point out, there are difficulties over definitions and data limitations, there is evidence to show that – across diverse regions – minorities and indigenous peoples experience higher levels of poverty, less access to education, health care and basic services, and have fewer employment opportunities than the general population. Hence minorities and indigenous peoples are more likely to suffer economic – and social and political – exclusion than other groups.

Development actors do not well understand the relationship between discrimination and poverty. This paper argues that discrimination is an important element in economic exclusion and must be addressed to establish sustainable development.

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Patricia Justino

Julie Litchfield