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Minority and Indigenous Rights in the International Development Goals

1 August 2001

The impact of discrimination against minorities and indigenous peoples must be factored into strategies for reaching the International Development Goals (IDGs). In all regions ofthe world, minorities and indigenous peoples are among the poorest ofthe poor, and often lack the political influence to overcome their marginalization. They should therefore be the prime beneficiaries of the international efforts to halve poverty and to improve human development. There is a risk, however, that the IDGs could be said to have been ‘achieved’ for a country, yet their impact on minorities and indigenous peoples could have been negative, as resources are diverted to majority groups.

The IDGs can best be met if minorities and indigenous peoples are at the centre of poverty reduction strategies. Ensuring that programmes address the particular inequalities faced by minorities and indigenous peoples will yield more effective development projects, fewer barriers to economic participation, a stronger voice for minority and indigenous communities, and good conditions for conflict prevention.

Governments and multilateral and bilateral development agencies need to immediately review their IDG policies to ensure that the rights and needs of minorities and indigenous peoples are taken fully into consideration. They must ensure minorities and indigenous peoples’ participation in the development of programmes aimed at meeting the IDGs for 2015. They also need to move beyond the limited set ofindicators used to measure progress towards the goals, to include a regular assessment ofwhether minority and indigenous communities are benefiting equally from development programmes.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

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Corinne Lennox

Katrina Payne