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UN Human Rights Council – the report of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues

20 March 2007

Human Rights Council, 4th Session 

Joint statement by Minority Rights Group International and International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism

Presented by Chris Chapman

Thank you Mr Chairperson for giving me the floor. I speak on behalf of Minority Rights Group International and the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism.

We welcome the excellent reports presented by the Independent Expert on Minority Issues.

We are particularly happy to see how the annual report identifies good practice in a number of member states with regard to the participation of minorities in development processes. It is particularly important to share such information with a view to accumulating knowledge on constructive ways to address poverty and unequal development affecting minorities.

The report also provides a thorough and thoughtful analysis of how development processes affect minorities, and makes the very important point that, where minorities are able to participate in and benefit from development, there is increased stability in the country as a whole, which results in positive gains for the whole population and increased prosperity.

Furthermore the Independent Expert announced in her initial report that one of the themes that she would address would be the integration of minorities with a view to promoting stability. We warmly welcome this and hope that this will be addressed in her next report. As well as development, integration of minorities in political and economic life is another crucial factor in improving the human rights situation of minorities and promoting stability in the country as a whole.

From the report it is abundantly clear that the Independent Expert is filling a gap in human rights mechanisms on minorities – both in her essential work of visiting countries and addressing minority issues, and providing constructive, technical advice to governments on fulfilling the human rights of minorities.

Finally we would like to second the important point made by the Independent Expert in her statement, in which she underlines the importance of a forum for minorities at the United Nations. Aside from the analytical and investigative work of the Independent Expert, the work of the Working Group on Minorities is essential in terms of providing a voice for minority groups at the United Nations so that they can provide much needed input into how the United Nations addresses minority issues. It also provides a space for dialogue between minority representatives and governments in a neutral terrain.

Thank you Mr Chairperson.