MINELRES: New on the MRG website: Hopes raised for UN minority adviser

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Sep 3 15:46:45 2004

Original sender: Chris Chapman <CHRIS.CHAPMAN@mrgmail.org>

Hopes raised for UN minority adviser

The UN Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights
has added its weight to calls for a special representative of the
Secretary-General on minority issues by presenting a 'draft decision' to
the Commission on Human Rights for approval. The decision, which will
face a vote at the more political, state-dominated Commission,
highlights the value of such a role in country fact finding and
preventive diplomacy, working closely with the Working Group on
Minorities (WGM). Minority Rights Group International (MRG), which has
long called for the establishment of such a mechanism, suggested that it
presents a unique opportunity to consolidate steps already taken to
improve the UNís capacity in early warning and conflict prevention,
including the recent appointment of a Special Adviser on the Prevention
of Genocide, Juan Mendez.

The Sub-Commmission adopted by consensus the draft resolution
'Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities', which was
presented to its fifty-sixth session on 4 August 2004, and included the
draft decision on the new minority focused role. MRG spokesperson,
Graham Fox, stated: 'The time is now right for such a mechanism as part
of a wider commitment to preventive strategies, which has been lacking
for too long. The initiative to create a genocide prevention adviser was
a boost to this early warning and urgent action capacity, but this post
requires support, links to the Geneva-based human rights machinery, and
a direct channel of information on those who are the most vulnerable in
situations of conflict, including minorities and indigenous peoples.' 

A series of wide ranging recommendations within the minorities
resolution are aimed at the development of peaceful and constructive
solutions to problems affecting minorities. Amongst these is an
additional call for the preparation of a working paper on the
advisability of drafting an additional protocol to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) containing remedies for
violations of minority rights. MRG also welcomed a call for a meeting
arranged by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in
cooperation with development agencies to further examine, in
consultation with MRG and minority representatives, the integration of
minority issues in development programming. MRG has been consulting the
UN Development Programme (UNDP) on the importance of addressing a range
of minority issues and criteria, which it considers critical to
achieving sustainable long-term development goals including the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The minorities resolution welcomed initiatives by the WGM to improve and
strengthen its own working practices and effectiveness, and to encourage
greater participation by states that have been poorly represented in the
past. To this end, plans to hold regional or sub-regional seminars in
cooperation with regional rights mechanisms were welcomed as were
thematic initiatives on Afro-descendant and Roma/Sinti issues, which
would also be carried out in appropriate regions. Of particular
practical interest is an invitation to the OHCHR to consider training
workshops at the national level on the implementation of the rights of
minorities. MRG has been collaborating with the OHCHR in the delivery of
its annual advocacy training for minorities and strongly supports this
further initiative.