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Rights groups welcome new UN forum on minorities

28 September 2007

The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva has today voted to establish a new Forum on Minorities Issues – a breakthrough move welcomed by minority rights activists.

Minority Rights Group (MRG), the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination (IMADR) and other NGOs have campaigned vigorously to prevent the voices of minorities being silenced at the UN, following a threat to dismantle the long-standing expert committee on minorities without any guarantees on what – if anything – would replace it.

MRG’s Head of International Advocacy, the MRG Press Office, said: “MRG welcomes the fact that member states responded to the desires of minorities, for a more effective mechanism at the UN to discuss and begin to address their needs.”

Last week, MRG and IMADR presented a petition, signed by over 185 people, to the Council, calling for the establishment of a new forum for minorities at the UN.

The resolution, sponsored by Austria, was passed without opposition by the 47 member states on Friday

Once established, the forum will be a two-day annual gathering where experts (both at national and international level), academics and most importantly, minorities themselves will be able to highlight issues which affect some of the most marginalized and impoverished communities in the world.

Minorities make up 20 per cent of the global population and exist in virtually every country in the world. MRG and IMADR point out that for the UN’s work building a strong, peaceful global community to be effective, it needs to listen to minorities.

The new forum provides a fresh opportunity to turn this into a reality. But Georgina Stevens of IMADR cautions. “This is just a beginning. The forum now needs to become an effective mechanism at the UN where minorities can effectively participate and have their concerns answered.”

Notes to editors

  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.
  • The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) is an international non-profit, non-governmental human rights organization devoted to eliminating discrimination and racism, forging international solidarity among discriminated minorities and advancing the international human rights system.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].