MINELRES: Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin - May 2004

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Sun Jun 13 11:05:43 2004

Original sender: Graham Fox <GRAHAM.FOX@mrgmail.org> 

Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin - May 2004 

Welcome to the Minority Rights Group International (MRG) email bulletin
for May 2004. Simply click on the links below in order to access the
full news release or publication on MRG's website, or alternatively
visit our site at:  http://www.minorityrights.org

In this e-bulletin: 

Spotlight falls on Sudan as African Commission calls on state for
Violence in Darfur may further destabilize the rest of Sudan 
Dispossession of land is key to poverty plight of Twa in Great Lakes 
UN Commission on Human Rights makes slow progress on minority issues 
Equality in dignity requires recognition of minorities states MRG
Criticism of China's rights record undermined by Iraq abuses 
Rights group deplores media racism on occasion of EU enlargement 
Events and advocacy 
Focus on: The Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Worth a closer look 
New Publications 
        - Minority Rights: A guide to United Nations Procedures and
Institution - 2004 Update 
        - MRG Briefing - Recognition of Minorities in Europe: Protecting
Rights and Dignity 


Spotlight falls on Sudan as African Commission calls on state for
The African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) currently
meeting in Banjul is considering the state report of Sudan amid mounting
NGO pressure for a strongly worded resolution on the current situation
in the troubled Western region of Darfur. The crisis has been a high
priority for NGOs, including MRG, which have made numerous interventions
and briefings and updated and lobbied commissioners to push Sudan for
answers and commitments. Media reports and refusal by Sudan to allow
full access to the region have fueled speculation of state sponsored
'ethnic cleansing'.


Violence in Darfur may further destabilize the rest of Sudan 
Without urgent action by the international community and the Sudanese
government the current situation in Darfur threatens to further
destabilize the rest of Sudan, according to experts speaking at a
meeting in London on 10 May. Thousands of civilians, mostly from the
non-Arab tribes of Darfur have been killed and up to a million people
displaced following attacks by the Arab Janjaweed militias, backed by
government forces. A UN mission to the region has reported
indiscriminate attacks on civilians, rape and sexual violence against
women, destruction of property, disappearances and persecution, and
acknowledged a distinct ethnic dimension to the violence. 


Dispossession of land is key to poverty plight of Twa in Great Lakes 
In a call for action by states attending the African Commission, MRG
have raised the fact that throughout most of their territory the Twa
have been dispossessed of their lands, often recently, and with no
compensation or alternative land provision. The loss of lands and lack
of access to natural resources has resulted in severe poverty, which has
limited Twa people’s access to adequate education, health services,
housing and sanitation, information and justice. The Twa indigenous
communities as a whole suffer from discrimination, marginalization and
extreme poverty, yet the plight of Twa women is compounded by multiple


UN Commission on Human Rights makes slow progress on minority issues 
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has adopted a number of
Decisions and Resolutions on minority issues in its 60th session, which
concluded on 23 April in Geneva. These were welcomed by MRG as ‘helpful
and constructive steps’, some of which will however require concerted
action and political will if they are to be taken forward effectively.
The steps were described as 'slow progress' by some who had hoped to see
greater development on issues such as the establishment of a special
mechanism on minorities.


‘Equality in dignity’ requires recognition of minorities states MRG 
While recognition is routinely given to the identities of majority
groups in states, this is often not the case for a multiplicity of
ethnic or national, religious or linguistic minority groups. Recognition
is essential to secure the rights of minority groups and lack of
recognition may potentially contribute to instability and conflict.
These are among the findings of a new briefing paper by MRG, which
stresses that legal recognition of minorities by states leads to
subsequent respect of minority rights, without which minorities and
migrant groups are unable to enjoy the fundamental right of 'equality in


Criticism of China's rights record undermined by Iraq abuses 
An opportunity for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to criticize China
over its human rights record during trade negotiations has been
undermined by the recent scandal surrounding allied treatment of Iraqi
prisoners. According to MRG, despite China's widespread violation of
rights, abuses by coalition troops offered the Chinese Premier, Wen
Jiabao, an easy means to deflect criticism during his visit to London in
May. While the coalition is on the defensive regarding its own rights
record, he took the unusual opportunity to raise concern over the
situation in Iraq and call for a greater UN role, while claiming that
China attached 'great importance' to human rights.  


Rights group deplores media racism on occasion of EU enlargement 
As ten accession states join the European Union on 1 May, some elements
within existing EU states will mark the occasion with racist and
discriminatory comment and media coverage similar to recent unwarranted
attacks on the Roma in the UK tabloid press. ‘Freedom of speech and
freedom of expression are fundamental rights and should be upheld in a
democratic society, however, they should not be used to justify hate
speech and racism’, stated Minority Rights Group International. 


Events and Advocacy 

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), 35 Session. 21
May - 4 June, Banjul, the Gambia. MRG staff are attending the African
Commission and NGO Forum (18-20 May) at which they will support a number
of minority and indigenous partners. MRG have raised issues through
interventions and other advocacy with governmental and non-governmental
delegates including the situation of Twa women and the urgent situation
in Darfur, Sudan. MRG hopes to encourage the ACHPR to make a strong
condemnation of Darfur and a commitment to take action, initially
through strong recommendations in relation to Sudan’s state report.
Click on the link below for MRG and partner interventions made at the


NGO Training on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities, 26-30 May, Strassbourg, France. MRG's Training Workshop is
run in cooperation with the Council of Europe FCNM secretariat. We have
invited 25 activists from NGOs working on minority issues, most of them
members of minorities themselves from countries being considered under
the state reporting process. The workshop will focus on practical skills
such as using the FCNM to strengthen the advocacy activities of
organizations, and submitting reports ("shadow reports") to the Council
of Europe, parallel to the report submitted by the state itself, on how
the FCNM is being implemented.


UN report identifies 'reign of terror' and massive rights violations by
The report of a UN mission to Darfur, Sudan, delivered on 7 May has
described a 'reign of terrror' and 'massive human rights violations
perpetrated by the government of Sudan and its proxy militia'. The
hard-hitting report describes systematic rights violations and offers
compelling evidence of government complicity in attacks together with
recommendations for immediate action. Click below to link the full UN


For further information about the events above and details of many
additional MRG programmes and advocacy activities, please visit MRG's
website or contact us directly.

Focus on 

The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities (FCNM) 
1998 marked the advent of this important new, legally binding minority
rights Convention. The FCNM offers an objective, apolitical way of
responding to the needs of minorities by agreeing minimal norms that
must be met by states parties. 2004 sees the second round of monitoring
of state's implementation of FCNM standards and offers an important
opportunity to assess the degree to which states are fulfilling their
obligations. The links below take you to the FCNM itself, and to MRG’s
authoritative analysis of its provisions, and the major opportunities
and challenges ahead.



For information on current vacancies at MRG please visit our website via
the link below. MRG strives to be an equal opportunities employer. MRG
occasionally has opportunities for internships and voluntary work and
those interested in applying for such positions should initially contact
MRG with a brief curriculum vitae (resume) and covering letter.


Worth a closer look 

Intersos is an independent non-profit humanitarian organization
committed to assisting the victims of natural disasters and armed
conflicts. Established in 1992, its activities are based on the
principles of solidarity, justice, human dignity, equality of rights and
opportunities, and respect for diversity and coexistence, paying special
attention to the most vulnerable and unprotected people. Intersos is
currently working in partnership with MRG on implementing an EU
Development Education project. 


New MRG Publications 

Minority Rights: A guide to United Nations Procedures and Institutions -
2004 Update 

This essential MRG Guide aims to encourage people belonging to
minorities and the groups themselves to use the procedures and forums of
the United Nations increasingly and effectively in order to promote
respect for their legitimate rights. Fully updated to incorporate
changes and developments in the UN system, this Guide has been written
and updated by renowned experts in the field and will be of interest to
all those with an interest in minority rights and UN mechanisms. 


Recognition of Minorities in Europe: Protecting Rights and Dignity - MRG
There are many ways in which states do not adhere to the internationally
accepted norm of the self-identification of minorities. Consequently,
scores of minorities and migrant groups are unable to enjoy the most
fundamental right of ‘equality in dignity’. MRG’s briefing paper
considers this important issue and makes recommendations to
inter-governmental organizations, states and international donors.


MRG welcomes your comments on this e-bulletin and our work in general,
and greatly values your opinions and information. We hope that you will
find this e-bulletin useful, however, it is not our intention to send
you unwanted messages. If you wish us to remove you from this list,
simply reply to minority.rights@mrgmail.org stating 'un-subscribe' in
the subject line.  

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental
organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and
linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide, and to promote
cooperation and understanding between communities.

MRG is a registered charity no. 282305, and has consultative status with
the United Nations Economic and Social Council and observer status with
the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Contact MRG: 

Floors 2-4, 54 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7422 4200        Fax: +44 (0)20 7422 4201

email:   minority.rights@mrgmail.org


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