52nd Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Minority Rights 


March 23rd, 2023: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues

Composition of the HRC

Main Report

The Vice-President opens the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues on March 23rd, 2023.

The Special Rapporteur (SP) Mr. Fernand De Varennes, opened the Interactive Dialogue (ID) on minority issues. This year his report focuses on general activities related to the mandate and the thematic section.

One significant development is the creation of the UN Forum on Minority Issues in cooperation with regional minorities and human right organizations and the Tom Lantos Institute. This innovation helped to ensure greater accessibility for minorities taking into account their experience and has had significant State support. Likewise, the holding of last year's high-level General Assembly event to mark the 13th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on Rights of Persons Belonging to Minorities (DRPBM) during the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York accomplished similar goals.

He reminds that minorities matter but their position, presence, and treatment have not improved. Many contemporary issues exemplify this fact, such as minority children who are separated from families because of government policies, minorities who are denied citizenship, denied education (in their own languages), and minorities being targets of hate speech, etc.

He argues that "Minorities are at the receiving end of most massive and abusive human rights violations in the world: they should be a priority in terms of protection and action: but instead as the Secretary General admits, they've been met with inaction and even negligence".

Introducing the thematic section of the report, it moves forward in recognizing and protecting the rights of minorities by providing a critical view and assessment of the implementation of the Declaration since its adoption. He continues to cite the UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the high-level event at the UNGA last September.

He reiterates that thirty years ago there was sincere hope for a progressive realization on the human rights of minorities that would improve the lives of many communities and people around the world. These were seen as essential to preventing conflict, achieving sustainable development and realizing human rights.

The SP aligns himself with the position of the Secretary-General at insisting that minority rights are human rights and the protection of those is essential to ensure stability and prevent conflict, as they are also integral part of the UN mission.

He refers to the 2013 UN Secretary-General's Guidance Note which called for the mainstream of minority rights across all United Nations pillars, which stated the integration of anti-discrimination and minority rights into the work of the UN system at global, regional and country levels. The SP recognizes that while much has been done on the matter of anti-discrimination, the opposite seems to happen with minority rights not only being non-streamed but largely omitted in the UN System – following he cites an example from the report.

He continues to describe that there has been little to no significant development institutionally at the UN to advance the protection of minorities when compared to other marginalized groups. Minorities are more likely to be excluded or discriminated against in regard to citizenship and being stateless, they are more likely to not have the right to be educated in their own language, or the right to vote and participate in public life, and religious and ethnic minorities are increasingly the main targets of hate speech and violence, "even calls to genocide".

The SP calls the urgent need to mainstream the protection of rights of minorities in the UN and develop further mechanisms to ensure the protection of their rights. The SP then condemns the possible 'indifference' of UN institutions on minority issues by also 'leaving them behind' in the initiatives4.

He carries on to mention the recommendations that were widely supported during the Special Rapporteur's regional forums and the UN Forum on minority issues: proposals for a legally binding instrument, the consolidation of regional forums on minorities at the UN, the creation of a permanent forum, and a voluntary fund, among others.

The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Mr. Fernand De Varennes, concludes his opening remarks by encouraging that civil society and minority human rights defenders continue to work in order to fulfill the promises for a better world for everyone under the principles of equality of rights for all. Finally he highlights his work contributing to some changes, such as in the amendment of the constitution of Slovenia which now recognizes Sign Language as an official language for the members of the deaf community. He concludes by thanking the Madam Chair

The Vice-President (Madam Chair), informs that the list of speakers is closed and encourages delegations to put forward questions or comments about the Special Rapporteurs Report on minority issues.

Interactive Dialogue

Council Members, Observer States and other Observers,

The Distinguished Representative of the European Union starts by thanking the Special Rapporteur for his report and reiterates its strong support for his mandate. The EU states its steadfast commitment to achieving the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (DRPBM).

The EU continues to highlight the planning and organization last year and claims that now there is a need to focus on their implementation. They argue that minority issues lay at the heart of many of the world's conflicts, and are even misused as pretext for war. With this, it condemns the Russian aggressions against Ukraine, and refers to them as Russia's instrumentalization of issues related to the protection of minorities.

The EU aligns itself with the premise "that the full enjoyment of human rights by persons belonging to minorities contributes to political and social stability and is key for effective prevention of conflicts."

The representative asks the SP "What actions can we set on the national or international level to ensure the protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities is not used as a pretext for conflict?" and thanks the SP for his work and support on the issue.

Tunisia states that it takes note of the recommendations from the report, including the matter of strengthening the protection of minorities. It reaffirms its commitment to protecting the rights of minorities without discrimination. Tunisia highlights its constitution, which enshrines equality among all citizens in the legal system, as stipulated in Art. 22 of the constitution.

The delegate also cites the adoption of Organic Law N°50 of October 23, 2018 on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, mentioning its prohibition of discrimination on racial grounds and the punishment for breaking the law. They highlight the creation of a national committee to combat racial discrimination, and measures aimed at facilitating residency procedures for foreigners.

Finally, the representative points out the situation of the Amazigh's, which enjoy their rights in all fields and the revival of Amazigh cultural heritage in education.

Colombia, starts by thanking the SP and reiterating the commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons who belong to minorities with the recognition of their contribution to the cultural diversity and heritage of societies.

The distinguished representative highlights the creation of the Ministry of Equality with the function – among others – to lead the National System of Equality and Equity (SNIE), which formulates and executes policies and measures to promote the elimination of inequalities and the enjoyment of rights.

Colombia appreciates the work of the SP on a draft treaty on the protection of the rights of minorities and shares its invitation to move forward to fill the gaps in the protection of minority rights.

Paraguay, recognizes the work of the SP and his critical assessment of the Declaration since its adoption. It agrees with the premise that the protection of minority rights plays a vital role in preventing and easing conflicts. They note with interest the recommendations of the SP, in particular the strengthening of the legal framework, the creation of a permanent forum and other necessary measures to integrate into the UN. It follows by highlighting Paraguay's multicultural country and their 19 indigenous groups.

Finally it reaffirms their support and notes the SP recent visit to Paraguay by mentioning they await his valuable recommendations which they hope will maintain a constructive spirit and objectivity.

China states that it is a unified multiethnic country with 56 ethnic groups which form a community of a shared future for the Chinese nation. It condemns the separatist forces and is firmly opposed to the individual countries forming in zones like Tibet and Xinjiang since they believe they discredit and harm human rights and the rule of law.

The representative notes and condemns the lack of improvement in the US regarding the situation of minorities and calls for the international community to urge the US to stop violating the human rights of minorities, to hold perpetrators accountable, and compensate victims.

Slovenia aligns itself with the EU statement. The representative recognizes that the 30th anniversary of the DRPBM is a milestone which highlights the need to intensify the collective engagement in promoting and advancing the rights of minorities.

The distinguished representative addresses the recommendations and proposals, and mentions their interest in more detail regarding the recommendation on the permanent forum of minorities.

The United States of America thanks the SP for their work and notes the efforts towards strengthening the protections of the human rights of marginalized communities. Meanwhile, the US also points to the Uyghur minority that face arbitrary detention, forced labor, and the forced separation of children from their families in the People's Republic of China.

The representative informs about the signature of President Biden's Executive Order on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, on February 16, which acknowledges the work of the government to advance equity for all.

The US continues to cite the SP, pointing out that members of marginalized communities

globally often bear inequalities, and these have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The US supports the SP efforts in matters of minority rights.

Finally the US aks the question: "How can member states better secure environmental justice and equitable access to public services, including adequate housing, education, clean water and sanitation, and health care, for marginalized communities?"

The Russian Federation agrees and notes that no action has been taken by the UN mechanisms to effectively protect the rights of minorities. It also notes with regret the 'double-standards' of different UN bodies regarding minority rights, including the OHCHR, by arguing that some states are subject to a strict accusatory approach while there are 'obvious' violations of the rights of minorities in the Baltic countries, the EU, and Ukraine which have been ignored for many years.

It condemns the selectivity and the existence of barriers a number of national minorities face when trying to participate in discussions in the UN and exercise their freedom of expression, for example the obstacles that the civil society of the Republic of Crimea has faced.

They express the hope that the SP can continue the dialogue, including in their country, and would remind him of his plans to visit Russia in the first half of April 2022, which were agreed upon through his initiative a month prior in March. However preparations were suspended and since then the Russian side has not received any signals confirming the Special Rapporteur's interest in making his visit to Russia and resuming the process of harmonizing its modalities.

Finally, it confirms that they are ready to accept the expert in Russia.

The Republic of Cameroon starts by citing the preamble of its constitution5, and noting the importance of the specific definition of a minority. Specifically for Cameron, the government addresses the section of Language by mentioning that the government has seeked lasting solutions to the current crisis in the two English-speaking regions (North-West and South-West). They share that they have created a special status for the two regions and secured involvement of the regions in different sections of the government apparatus.

Furthermore, the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism – created in 2017 – continues to promote the two official languages and campaigns against discrimination. This developed into the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 14 civil society organizations on May 12, 2022.

Iraq opens by thanking the SP for his work, followed by citing the Constitution of the Republic of Iraq by reaffirming the principle of equality and non-discrimination among Iraqis. The representative highlights the legal requirements to guarantee the rights of all: (1) Within elections law N°9 of 2020, (2) considerations of the situation that some Iraqis might face i.e. at the hands  of the terrorist ISIS gangs. (3) The Yazidi Survivors Law N°8 of 2021, (4) Law N°58 of 2018.

It concludes by assuring that the Iraqi government is working to ensure the present and future of  all components of Iraqi society, to promote and protect their rights without discrimination.

Venezuela stresses that to overcome marginalization, discrimination, and poverty, it is necessary to advance the social and economic inclusion of all people – especially those belonging to minorities. The representative expresses with concern the situation of minorities who are the recipients of hate speech, xenophobic rhetoric, and incitement to hatred towards them in the world. Additionally, they state that the movements and political parties with 'neo-nazi' and other extreme ideologies are endangering the human rights of minorities and vulnerable groups.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela highlights its commitment to the full promotion and protection of all rights, including the right to development of the entire population, as outlined in the Homeland Plan 2019-2025.

Finally, it concludes by addressing the SP to observe a strict adherence to the Code of Conduct in the exercise of his mandate and not politicize with unverified information, such as the reports on Tibet and Xinjiang in his report.

Nepal notes the SP report focused on his activities and the 30th anniversary for the adoption of the DRPBM. It welcomes the SP's interest in visiting Nepal and wishes to reiterate that it is ready to welcome the mandate holders based on mutual convenience.

The distinguished representative emphasizes that multilingualism, multi-ethnicity, multi-religion and multi-culture are salient characteristics which portray a diverse yet united Nepali society. In addition to the inclusive principles adopted to ensure the representation of national and ethnic minorities which have gained visible progress today, Nepal highlights that all languages spoken as mother tongues are regarded as languages of the nation and ensures their education.

Regarding the SP, Nepal commends efforts towards accommodating views which help mainstream the protection of the rights of minorities at the UN. Nepal enquires of him "how can it be ensured that no section of minorities is left behind if states move ahead towards drafting a legally binding instrument, creating a permanent forum and establishing a voluntary fund for minorities given the country-specific diversity of minorities?"

Armenia concurs that there is a need to mainstream the protection of the rights of minorities at the UN and further develop mechanisms to better ensure the protection of their rights. They agree that the religious as ethnic minorities are increasingly becoming targets of discrimination. Armenia calls on the UN and the international community to timely and adequately prevent the risk of mass atrocities.

Regarding the SP, the representative of Armenia thanked him for reiterating the call of the UN 

High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure "free and safe movement to Nagorno-Karabakh … to avert humanitarian catastrophe," and to stop the disruption of the Lachin Corridor. It notes with deep concern that High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure "free and safe movement to Nagorno-Karabakh … to avert humanitarian catastrophe," and to stop the disruption of the Lachin Corridor. It notes with deep concern that Azerbaijan aims to create unbearable living conditions in Nagorno-Karabakh and to ethnically cleanse it.It concludes by mentioning that not even the binding order from the ICJ was enough for Azerbaijan to change its posture, hence, decisive action by the UN is needed.

Egypt starts by mentioning that the Egyptian constitutions have ensured the principle of equality before the law of all persons, and affirmed their rights and duties without discrimination. Egypt considers discrimination on grounds of religion, creed, sex, race or language, geographical affiliation, or for any other reason as a crime punishable by law. The representative emphasizes the right to freely practice religious rites and establish places of worship for the people of Heavenly religions.

It highlights the civilizational, cultural, and religious heritage of Egypt and strongly condemns the crime of burning copies of the Holy Quran in a number of countries. Egypt stresses the need to pay the necessary attention to these acts, in a way that conforms with international human rights mechanisms.

Austria aligning itself with the EU statement, recalls the high-level meeting of the 21st of September, 2023 in New York with the UN Secretary-General. The UNSG affirmed that the protection of minorities was integral to the mission of the UN. Austria shares this assessment and agrees that their efforts need to be strengthened. They also believe that human rights provide an important blueprint for everyone, including governments, to address long standing discrimination issues.

Therefore, Austria sees the new Practical Guide to Developing Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation or the Guidance Note on Intersectionality, Racial Discrimination & Protection of Minorities presented by the OHCHR as important examples of practical implementation.

Finally, it addresses the following question to the Special Rapporteur: "To have a concrete impact, we need to strengthen the implementation of minority rights protection at the national level. How can your mandate better support countries in this effort?"

India rejects the reference to the country in the Report as unwarranted and factually incorrect. It states that India is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious society that not only respects but also celebrates its diversity. The Constitution of India provides for equality before law, and prohibits discrimination against any citizen.

When these rights guaranteed under the Constitution are violated, the aggrieved citizens may approach the Supreme Court of India or the concerned High Court directly. Additionally, penal laws in India provide punishment against discrimination or victimization of minorities.

India closes their statement by affirming their commitment to the principles in the UN DRPBM.

South Africa prides itself as one of the most ethnically, culturally, linguistically, and religiously diverse countries in the world. Chapter 2 of the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution acts as a cornerstone for the protection of minority rights. In order to ensure that all people's rights in the diverse nation are promoted and protected, Chapter 9 of the constitution creates the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.

Kazakhstan takes note of the recommendations reflected in the SP report. It concurs that States

should develop pragmatic, sustainable and comprehensive policies to effectively combat negative stereotypes of and discrimination against minorities. The representative highlights that Kazakhstan has undertaken various initiatives for the promotion of rights and representatives of more than 100 ethnic groups live in peace and harmony in the territory.

The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan serves as an important element of the political system of Kazakhstan, and for 25 years has been helping to ensure constructive dialogue, public harmony and unity among all ethnic groups. They join the common efforts of the international community in the promotion of minority rights.

Italy aligns itself with the EU statement and thanks the SP for his report. Italy is strongly committed to promoting and protecting the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including Christian minorities who continue to suffer persecutions and attacks.

On a positive note, the representative commemorates the 30th anniversary of the closure of the dispute between Italy and Austria on Alto-Adige/South Tyrol, which represents a concrete model of dialogue and coexistence in the framework of the common EU membership alongside the 30th anniversary of the UN DRPBM.

Addressing the Special Rapporteur, it agrees with the strengthening of efforts to protect and promote minority rights, and therefore strongly support his call to mainstream it across the UN System, considering the valuable expertise provided by centers such as the European Academy of Bolzano that was mentioned.

The Holy See takes note of the SP Report and the UN DRPBM. The Holy See echoes the concerns expressed by the SP, particularly the situation in which 75% of stateless persons worldwide are targeted because they belong to minorities. The representative follows up by citing Pope Francis's Encyclical Lettera Fratelli tutti, N°134.

Georgia starts by affirming that the protection of the rights of minorities and elimination of all forms of discrimination remains a priority. The Georgian legislation and relevant mechanisms ensure the protection of human rights and equality. One of these instruments is the State Strategy for Civic Equality and Integration 2021-2030 and respective Action Plans to "further strengthen a democratic society and create equal opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity". Finally the representative highlights the importance of civic equality, human rights, and inclusiveness.

Algeria/Argentina is given the floor, but the representative states they have withdrawn their request to take the floor.

Afghanistan starts by mentioning that the country is home to many minorities, but with great regret states that they live under the Taliban's oppressive and exclusionary form of rule and that 'no one is safe'. Members of ethnic and religious groups are systematically discriminated against, creating a climate of intolerance and impunity. "Houses are searched; women and children are killed." Likewise, Hindus, Siks, Christians, and Jewish people have been forced to flee.

The representative asks the following question: "In the absence of a dedicated investigative mechanism for Afghanistan, we ask – how can the work of the Special Rapporteur – in coordination with other mandate holders – best contribute to the documentation of violations and abuses against minorities – and the prevention of worse atrocities?"

Australia states its commitment to the protection and promotion of the human rights of minority people. They share both the SP and the UN Secretary-General's concern that 'too little' has been done to advance the protection of minorities. This hostility leads to increased violent conflict and human rights abuses, weakens the rule of law, and hinders socioeconomic development. Australia acknowledges the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur for immediate and long-term responses to improve the protection of minority rights.

Finally, the representative asks: "what would you recommend as the most effective and immediate measures that can be swiftly implemented by the international community to support the protection of minorities?"

Croatia, aligns itself with the EU Statement. Human rights violations and abuses against minorities are one of the most important early indicators of possible atrocities. Special Procedures are often the first to raise the alarm and recommend action. The mandate you hold therefore plays an essential role in stressing situations of risk and engaging with all

stakeholders on prevention. The Croatian Government cooperates with different stakeholders on minority issues, including the UN and its agencies, such as UNICEF and the UNDP. They call on all UN Member States to cooperate actively with your office.

The representative finalizes by asking: "We are interested to learn more about your recommendation for States to begin working on a legally binding instrument. We would like to know your view regarding a possible definition of a national minority?"

Mexico acknowledges the need for comprehensive laws against discrimination to promote and respect minority rights. It has constitutional provisions against discrimination, the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination, a Council Committee to Prevent Discrimination, and measurement statistics to generate policies for equal opportunities. Mexico seeks to renew the Rapporteur's mandate and encourages other states to support the renewal.

Azerbaijan acknowledges the Special Rapporteur's work and report on protecting minority rights. Azerbaijan claims to uphold traditional tolerance towards different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups and is committed to fulfilling its obligations towards the protection of national minorities. The promotion of minority rights is important for conflict prevention, sustainable development, and human rights fulfillment.

However, Azerbaijan points out that some states deny minority rights, resulting in ethnic cleansing and human rights violations. Azerbaijanis living in Armenia have been subjected to such inhuman policies and systematic human rights violations, and their inability to return to their ancestral land represents an immense injustice that needs to be addressed by human rights mechanisms and bodies.

 Interactive Dialogue

Special Rapporteur, in relation to the question of the actions that can be taken to avoid the use of minorities as a pretext for war provides a short answer, "treat your minorities well." Peace, justice, and stability is essential, and that is why there is a need for a legally binding instrument to bring a comprehensive framework into what it means in practice for the State. The proposed treaty that can be found as an Annex to the SP report has a new annex for religious and belief minorities, on statelessness, and on social media and hate speech.

By having different approaches and perspectives on inclusion, the exclusion of minorities can be avoided. Other processes such as education and identification can also help. A permanent forum would also be necessary since minorities need to be heard, seen, and to participate in the United Nations.

Bangladesh states its commitment to social harmony and ensuring equal rights for ethnic and religious minorities. The country has a constitutional pledge to protect and develop the unique culture and tradition of all ethnic minorities. The government aims to provide education for all children in ethnic minorities in their own languages. Bangladesh ensures that all religious minorities have equal rights in practicing their rituals, and national holidays are observed for major religious festivals.

The Rohingya ethnic minority has been undergoing never-ending persecution in Myanmar. Only because of their ethnic and religious identity they are treated as lesser humans. For the same reason, they have been stripped of their citizenship and have been confronting grave human rights violations for decades which has been rightly mentioned in the SR's report.

Cyprus aligns itself with the statement by the European Union. Cyprus is a diverse country that has ratified international conventions on protecting minority rights and regional languages. The author acknowledges the challenges but notes progress has been made, such as the codification of the Cypriot Maronite Arabic language and the creation of cultural centers for Maronite and Latin communities. The author also mentions the island-wide efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of Cyprus' three religious groups.

Hungary aligns itself with the statement of the European Union. It expresses support for the Special Rapporteur's mandate and highlights the need for stronger legal protection and mainstreaming of minority rights in the United Nations. The delegation from Hungary echoes the importance of ensuring national minorities' right to education in their mother tongue and developing language policies in consultation with minority representatives.

They highlight the situation of Hungarian national minorities in Transcarpathia who have been deprived of their existing rights regarding the use of their language in education and public spheres due to restrictive legislations. The delegation urges relevant actors and bodies to raise their voice against such measures.

Hungary concludes with the question "In your assessment, which one of your recommendations could be the most swiftly operationalized regarding the mainstreaming of minority rights at the UN?"

Cuba thanks the Special Rapporteur and agrees that there needs to be a renewed commitment to the full realization of the rights and principles of the Declaration on the Rights of Individuals Belonging to National or Ethnic Minorities. It highlights the situation of human rights violations against ethnic minorities in developed countries and calls for tighter control over who can participate in the Minorities Forum to prevent politicization. Cuba also criticizes countries that promote or allow such violations while manipulating the United Nations to impose punitive measures and double standards.

Ireland aligns itself with the statement by the European Union. While progress has been made, there are still disparities in the promotion and protection of minority rights within the UN system. The inclusive participation of minorities in all aspects of society, including in international fora, is crucial, and the UN system should mainstream the protection of minority rights across all activities. Ireland recently launched a National Action Plan against Racism, which aims to address the needs and challenges facing ethnic minorities in the country.

The representative finishes with the question: "Special Rapporteur, have you identified best practices in the promotion of inclusive dialogue and participation of persons belonging to minorities in decision-making?"

Ukraine states that Russia's aggression against Ukraine, which began in 2014 with the occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas, is under the pretext of protecting minorities. The war is also being waged with and against national minorities. People across Ukraine, including ethnic, national, linguistic, religious and other minorities, live under constant threat of Russia's missile attacks. Russia's policy of de-Ukrainization, forced assimilation, and demographic substitution in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine is a grave breach of international law.

Ukraine calls on the Special Rapporteur to pay special attention to the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine on the rights of minorities in Ukraine and in Russia.

Serbia fully supports the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Minorities and boasts the highest level of minority rights protection, in line with international standards. The country has a constitutionally-guaranteed minority policy and utilizes national councils to ensure the protection of national culture and identity of minorities, funded by the state budget.

They highlight the Action Plan for the realization of the rights of national minorities as the most important strategic document in Serbia for minorities. Serbia wants to encourage other states in the region to pay attention to minority rights and calls for the respect and implementation of UN standards for the protection of national minorities.

Iran acknowledges the report of the Special Rapporteur and emphasizes that Iranians respect and revere all ethnicities and religions. They condemn the use of propaganda and hate speech to promote Islamophobia and call for unity against discrimination and hate towards religious minorities, particularly Muslims. The rise of Islamophobia is concerning, and they urge the Special Rapporteur to condemn Islamophobic acts such as burning the Quran. They also express concern over the growth of marginalization, social exclusion, racial hatred, and racism in certain western societies, which provide a fertile breeding ground for mass atrocities.

Brazil thanks the Special Rapporteur for his report and echoes concerns about the implementation gaps in the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. Brazil also supports the mainstreaming of minority issues across the UN system and is determined to combat all forms of intolerance and strengthen institutions to ensure respect for the rights of minorities in the country.

The representative ends with the question: "given the numerous challenges faced by minorities worldwide, including vulnerability, exclusion and discrimination, in your view, how can we ensure their effective participation and representation at the UN human rights system?"

Romania aligns itself with the statement by the European Union. He notes the lack of international action in promoting and protecting minority rights, but affirms that it has successfully applied policies of interculturalism and developed a system for minority rights protection that exceeds international standards. Romania will continue to be active in this matter and cooperate with international monitoring mechanisms. The country also expresses concern over the negative consequences of the Russo-Ukrainian war on the civil population, including minorities, and calls for the cessation of aggression and withdrawal of Russian forces.

France supports the commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Rights of Man and emphasizes the importance of pursuing the fight for equality, freedoms, and human dignity. It calls for action to achieve gender equality, including zero tolerance towards online harassment and promoting women's freedom of expression. France also emphasizes the need for women's participation in decision-making processes, including peace processes.

France calls for better protection of the right to education and academic freedom and continues its fight for freedom of the press and the protection of LGBT+ people. It also emphasizes the need for resilient societies and the achievement of the human right to social security, which aligns with the UNSG's ambition for a new social contract in view of the Summit of the future. 

National Human Rights Institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations,

ADALAH - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel mentions that the State of Israel has implemented discriminatory laws that specifically target Palestinians, including those with Israeli citizenship, denying them equal rights and privileges enjoyed by Jewish Israelis. The Ban on Palestinian Family Unification law, for instance, prevents Palestinian citizens from living with their West Bank or Gaza-based spouses in Israel. The new Israeli government has continued to promote policies of racial segregation, expand a two-tiered system of governance, and limit Palestinians' freedom of expression and political protest. The Adalah requests that the Special Rapporteur conduct a country visit to investigate these discriminatory laws.

Centre Zagros pour les Droits de l'Homme expresses concern about the situation of ethnic minorities and non-Persian nations in Iran, highlighting intensified repression, arrests, torture, executions, murders, sexual assaults, and other crimes. Minority activists are also under pressure and risk being arrested and tortured. The Iranian government allegedly used weapons of war and prohibited gas against demonstrators in Balochistan and Kurdistan. They call for new measures to promote and protect the rights of individuals belonging to minorities in Iran and urgent action to ensure that they can enjoy their fundamental rights.

China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC) discusses the education system in Tibet, which has developed significantly since China's reform and opening up in the late 1970s. Tibet has created a modern education system covering various levels of education, despite facing special difficulties and problems due to its geography, natural conditions, and social development level.

To help children overcome these difficulties, Tibet has established boarding schools in rural and pastoral areas, providing accommodation, catering, and other services. These schools have proven to be an effective model to solve educational problems and boost equality, popularization, and high-quality development of education in Tibet. The schools also adopt a flexible management system, and each class has a designated teacher to take care of the daily life of students. The schools offer sports and cultural activities and pay attention to traditional Tibetan foods.

Thanks to strong support from the central and local governments, Tibet's boarding schools give play to the scale effect of educational resources, advance the balanced development of basic education, and guarantee the equal right of children from various ethnic groups to enjoy high-quality education.

China Ethnic Minorities' Association for External Exchanges, Zunong Nasierding representing, speaks about his personal experience as a beneficiary and communicator of education for ethnic minorities in China. He highlights that he was able to pursue his education in his mother tongue and obtain doctoral degrees in Uyghur language and literature. He asserts that China has always prioritized the rights of ethnic minorities to use and develop their own languages.

Humanists International highlights the failure to protect minority rights globally and the extreme suppression of minorities by governments. Religious- and ethno-nationalism is being used to deny the right of minorities to express their individual identity and beliefs. Examples include Hindu nationalists committing violence against Muslims, and Buddhist nationalists committing crimes against Rohingya Muslims. In addition, there is increasing political hostility towards the human rights system designed to protect minorities and vulnerable groups. This is being fueled by authoritarian, populist, and fundamentalist regimes and governments seeking to delegitimize and dismantle the human rights framework.

The representative ends with the question: "mind, we wondered if the Rapporteur has any reflections or recommendations in terms of these challenges to the human rights system, and the implications for minority rights?"

International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (OIDEL) discusses the importance of granting the right of minorities to participate in decision-making processes of different policies, with a focus on the rights of children belonging to minorities. It also reflects on the fact that families and parents are not mentioned in the Recommendations of the Fifteenth session of the Forum on Minority Issues, despite being the main advocates for children belonging to minorities. The author argues that families and communities should be placed as the cornerstones in the decision-making process of different policies to ensure the rights of children belonging to minorities.

Minority Rights Group congratulates the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues for their accomplishments during their term, particularly for bringing the Forum on Minority Issues closer to lived realities through regional forums and for addressing statelessness and hate speech. The Minority Rights Group agrees that there is often reluctance to address exclusion and marginalization of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities within the UN system.

They welcome the concrete recommendations in the Special Rapporteur's report and call for an inclusive discussion involving minority rights defenders and minority communities to work towards the adoption of a new binding instrument. They also stress that existing instruments are not fully implemented when it comes to provisions protecting minority rights, and more needs to be done to address the implementation gap in countries that are party to these treaties.

Shaanxi Patriotic Volunteer Association expresses concern about minority issues in the United States, particularly the promotion of "white supremacy" and the discrimination and attacks against minority groups. They specifically mention the anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to hate crimes against Asians in the US. The representative urges the Council and the Special Rapporteur to urge the US government to stop the untrue remarks of US political elites, eradicate "white supremacy," and protect the interests of minority groups.

The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development refers to the recent report by the Special Rapporteur on minority issues that highlights the discrimination many minorities face today, which is caused by state policy and international indifference. The report mentions the discrimination against Tibetans and Uighurs in China, where the Chinese government's policies aim to erode their cultural identity. The UN and its member states are called upon to bolster their efforts to hold states accountable for human rights violations against their populations. The report concludes that minority rights are human rights, and the UN must prioritize them.

World Jewish Congress thanks the Special Rapporteur for his report on the protection of the rights of minorities and calls on the UN to strengthen minority protection due to increasing hate speech, racism, and prejudice in social media and hate crimes. The Congress is concerned about the impact of these trends on the safety and well-being of Jewish communities worldwide and works with governments to fight antisemitism and improve minority protection. They urge the UN and all member states to prioritize the protection of minorities, curb hate speech, and strengthen education to build resilient societies and safeguard democracy.

Final Remarks

The President thanks the SR for his work and report and the delegations for their interest, which shows how important this subject is. The end of this dialogue has been reached.

The President concludes item 3 of the agenda (Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues).

Author: Valentina Ospina Diaz

Uploaded: April 15 2023 (Originally on CD4Peace Archive Site)


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace