MINELRES: Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin

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Mon Feb 7 08:32:50 2005

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Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin 

Welcome to the minority Rights Group International (MRG) email bulletin.
Simply click on the links below in order to access the full news story
or publication on MRG's website, or alternatively visit our site at:

In this e-bulletin: 

- Minority rights crucial to calm communal tensions in post-election
- UN genocide commemoration must be through action as well as words 
- India’s Dalits refused access to tsunami relief 
- Expert panel rises to Annan’s challenge to create a more effective UN 
- African Commission urged to toughen stance on state non-compliance 
- Optimism and outrage mark end of indigenous decade 
- 2005 - a new year of discrimination against Roma in Europe 
- Tribute to Martin Emerson 
- Focus on: Holocaust Memorial Day 
- Events and Advocacy: MRG launches gender report at UN in New York 
- Worth a closer look: UN Official Document System available online 
- Publications - Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Guide for
Minorities and Indigenous Peoples      


Minority Rights crucial to calm communal tensions in post-election Iraq
Despite the possibility of a poor election turn-out by minorities
including Sunni Arabs, a new Iraqi government must guarantee minority
rights and minority representation to protect against further communal
conflict. MRG warns that without such guarantees, a serious upsurge in
violence could follow the 30 January elections. ‘Unrepresentative
government that pays little attention to minority concerns will only
cause religious and political tensions to flare’, stated MRG.

UN genocide commemoration must be through action as well as words
At a time of global remembrance for the victims of the Nazi holocaust,
60 years on, another genocide may still be in progress in Darfur, Sudan.
The United Nations (UN)  announced a special session of the General
Assembly on 24 January to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the
liberation of the Nazi death camps. MRG called for this event to
commemorate genocide victims through action, by including a full working
session of the General Assembly with the aim of demanding effective
measures to halt continuing atrocities committed against black Africans
in Darfur.

India’s Dalits refused access to tsunami relief
Dalit communities in tsunami devastated coastal regions of southern
India are facing exclusion from relief efforts due to caste
discrimination which continues even in the face of massive and
indiscriminate natural disaster. Shocking reports of the neglect of
Dalit families and apathy with regard to their plight by government
officials and other communities were described by MRG as ‘wholly
unacceptable' in a region where day to day caste discrimination remains
widespread and often goes unchallenged.  

Expert panel rises to Annan's challenge to create a 'more effective' UN
A new UN commissioned report on threats to international peace and
security has been welcomed as a useful first step towards a more
effective UN and a culture of conflict prevention within the
institution. The expert report recommends root and branch change to the
UN and its mechanisms to help it face global peace and security
challenges and address divisions between Member States that have left it
wanting. Yet according to MRG, the report still falls short in its
consideration of the crucial role of minority rights protection in
conflict prevention strategies.

African Commission urged to toughen stance on state non-compliance
MRG has raised its concerns at the 36th Session of the African
Commission in Banjul, regarding the poor situation of state compliance
with Commission recommendations and urgent action directives. The rights
group congratulated the Commission’s vision and foresight in a number of
extremely progressive decisions in favour of some of Africa’s most
vulnerable communities. However it criticised states including Nigeria
and Kenya for failing to implement such decisions, in clear
contravention of their obligations under the African Charter on Human
and Peoples’ Rights.

Optimism and outrage mark end of Indigenous decade
Progress towards a draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
has been hampered by disagreement and uncertainty following an
additional session of the drafting Working Group, which concluded on 3
December. The Chair of the Working Group expressed optimism and
indicated a growing consensus between states and indigenous delegations.
Such optimism was markedly absent amongst some indigenous peoples who
expressed outrage at the process and began a hunger strike in protest
against attempts by some states to ‘weaken and undermine’ the Draft

2005 - a new year of discrimination against Roma in Europe
MRG has highlighted its serious concern at the continuing high level of
incidents of discrimination and violence against Roma communities in
Europe and apparent lack of progress of measures to address a
‘Europe-wide epidemic’ of discrimination. Reports have demonstrated
examples of the murder of Roma by police, destruction of Roma houses,
extreme racism against Roma in school text-books and discriminatory
policies to prevent Roma from travelling legally and entering countries
including the UK.

Tribute to Martin Emerson
Martin Emerson led MRG's work with the Roma for eight years. The success
of our programmes during this period owes a huge amount to his
experience, insights and dedication. Martin made sure that MRG worked
with emerging Roma organizations to build their capacity to represent
their own communities. Martin introduced the idea of mentoring to MRG
and developed and ran 3 successful programmes for young Roma activists
based on a mentoring methodology. There is no doubt that because of his
personal intervention, because of the ideas that he had and the
programmes that he designed and led, the lives of literally hundreds of
young Roma in Eastern Europe were improved and transformed. Because
other organizations are copying the mentoring approach that he
introduced, thousands of other young disadvantaged people are benefiting
from the example that he set and the methods that he developed. Martin
died from cancer in November 2004. He will be greatly missed by all who
knew him.

Focus on: Holocaust Memorial Day 

On the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January 2005, Minority
Rights Group International remembers and pays tribute to those who died
in the Holocaust from all communities. MRG calls upon all states and
individuals to be ever vigilant against racism, discrimination and
oppression, to give true meaning to the words 'never again'. 

First they came for the Jews, 
and I did not speak out - 
because I was not a Jew. 

Then they came for the  communists, 
and I did not speak out - 
because I was not a communist. 

Then they came for the trade unionists, 
and I did not speak out - 
because I was not a trade unionist. 

Then they came for me, 
and there was no one left 
to speak out for me. 

Pastor Neimoeller (victim of the Nazis) 


Events and Advocacy 

New York launch of MRG report "Gender, Minorities and Indigenous
On 12 January MRG launched its report "Gender, Minorities and Indigenous
Peoples", at UN headquarters in New York, highlighting multiple forms of
discrimination affecting minority and indigenous women. The event
coincided with the 32nd session of the UN Committee on the Elimination
of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and aimed to
highlight the need for it to address such issues more effectively in its
work. Speakers included the authors, minority and indigenous
representatives and a member of CEDAW.  An expert audience included
committee members, government representatives, UN staff and NGOs. A
summary report is available at:

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.


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

UN Official Document System now publicly available online
The UN's Official Document System offering a vast repository of official
documentation - including over 800,000 reports, resolutions and
summaries of the meetings of the main UN bodies - is now freely and
publicly available online. The ODS is a tremendous resource for civil
society groups around the world, as well as for students, researchers
and activists.
Information contained in external websites does not necessarily reflect
the views, policies or opinions of MRG and its staff.

Events for your diary

World Economic Forum - 26 - 30 January 2005, Davos, Switzerland 

World Social Forum - 26 - 31 January 2005, Porto Alegre, Brazil 

Commission of Social Development - 9 - 18 February 2005,
(Copenhagen+10), New York 

World Summit on the Information Society - Prepcom 11 - 17-25 February
2005, Palais des Nations, Geneva 

Commission on the Status of Women - 28 February - 11 March 2005,
(Beijing+10), New York 

CERD Thematic Discussion on the Prevention of Genocide - 28 February - 1
March 2005, Geneva, Switzerland 


Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Guide for Minorities and
Indigenous Peoples - Edited by Margot E. Salomon (advance notice)

In recent years, increased attention has been given to economic, social
and cultural (ESC) rights internationally and, to a certain degree,
domestically. However not enough has been done to consider fully and
systematically the economic, social and cultural rights of minorities
and indigenous peoples. This guide aims to bridge this gap. It provides
an overview of ESC rights and how these can be applied to minorities and
indigenous peoples. The guide provides practical information and advice
about the best ways to advocate for securing ESC rights. The chapters
cover the rights to food and to water, housing rights, health rights,
education rights, labour rights and cultural rights and describe the
legal standards, the various enforcement mechanisms, and guidelines for
successful civil society advocacy. Available on MRG’s website from 16

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 send an email to graham.fox@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: 
54 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT, UK. 
Tel: 020 7422 4200      Fax: 020 7422 4201 
email:  minority.rights@mrgmail.org