MINELRES: Minority Rights Group eBulletin - July 2006

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Tue Jul 18 10:32:27 2006

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**News **

UN makes move for Indigenous Peoples' Rights: MRG urges support
of General Assembly 

Twenty years after discussions started, the new UN Human Rights
Council has approved the text of the Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples. The declaration is at draft stage and is now set
to go to the UN General Assembly for approval, where member countries
are expected to vote later this year. Minority Rights Group
International's Executive Director, Mark Lattimer, said: 

"We are delighted that the UN is finally moving on this issue.
This is an auspicious start to the new Human Rights Council and we
warmly welcome their efforts."

For a copy of the full press statement (July 3rd 2006) please see

Indian Ocean islanders defeat British government and win right to
return to their homeland 

A small group of Indian Ocean islanders today (May 11 2006) inflicted
a major defeat on the British government at the High Court and won the
right to return to some of their homeland islands. The Chagos
islanders were removed by the British authorities from their homeland
in the Indian Ocean so the United States could build a military base
on Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago. After
a five year long legal struggle with Whitehall, the High Court judges
have overturned a government decree banning them from returning to
their homeland. This opens the way for their resettlement of the
outlying islands. 

For a full copy of the press release please go to

Chagos Islanders face fresh appeal by FCO

The British government has announced (June 30 2006) that it would
appeal the decision of the High Court, delivered this May, that the
foreign minister's use of an "Order in Council' to keep the Chagos
Islanders from resettling was "irrational" and "repugnant". As a third
phase of litigation begins between the exiled Chagos Islanders and the
Foreign Commonwealth Office begins, Minority Rights Group International
is warning that the legal costs incurred are massive and are already
dwarfing the relatively modest amounts necessary to relocate the
community from Mauritius and the Seychelles. MRG Head of Advocacy Clive
Baldwin said "What is especially repugnant is the fact that the UK
government insists that it is the cost that is preventing them from
assisting the Chagossians' return and yet they have wilfully spent
millions of taxpayers' pounds on trying to prevent that very thing from
happening". For further information on press work for Chagos please
contact MRG's press
office on press@mrgmail.org <mailto:press@mrgmail.org> 

Kenyan Government has engaged with African Commission on Endorois
Land Rights claim

MRG is supporting CEMIRIDE (Centre for Minority Rights Development)
in bringing a case to the African Commission on Human and Peoples
Rights. The case concerns the land rights of the Endorois people of
Kenya, a semi-nomadic pastoralist community that have been evicted
from their ancestral lands, first for a game park and more recently
for ruby mining in the region. The African Commission accepted their
case (against the Kenyan government) on admissibility some time ago
but until this May, they had failed to engage in the case. After
intense lobbying and some media coverage in Kenya the government
attended a hearing on the case for the first time and has agreed to
enter into negotiations. For a full briefing on the case so far see
an article that appeared in "The Nation", Kenya's main daily

**Update on MRG activities **

Treaty Body Training Programme Concludes with final session in Cameroon
July 2006

MRG' UN Treaty Body Training programme is coming to the end of its
current phase. Chris Chapman, our International Officer is running a
final session in Cameroon. MRG will be evaluating the programme shortly.
For further info on the program and/or on our Treaty Body training
workshops Chris can be reached at chris.chapman@mrgmail.org

African Commission Project: Training Session in Banjul, The Gambia

In May the MRG's new African Commission project held a four day
training (5,10,12,13) for 25 African minority representatives on the
regional and international protection systems and standards. The
training was organized around the 39th ordinary session of the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in Banjul, the
Gambia so as to enable a practical approach wherein the participants
could be able to attend both the NGO forum preceding the session and
part of the session itself, and apply the knowledge and skills
imparted to them during the training. The main facilitators for the
training were Mr Ibrahima Kane and Mrs Hannah Forster. The training
is one of the activities to be undertaken under the 3 year project
entitled &ldquo;Strengthening the capacity of minority and indigenous
peoples in Africa to advocate for the implementation of African
regional and international standards&rdquo;. The project is carried
out in partnership with 2 other organizations, the African Center for
Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), based in the Gambia, and
Kenya based Center for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE). For
more information on this project please contact Paile Chabane,
MRG's new Human Rights Officer for Africa on

Four part program on Minority Rights/Discrimination in Turkey enters
first phase

MRG is implementing an EC funded 3 years project on the protection of
minority rights and prohibition of discrimination in Turkey.
MRG&rsquo;s local partners in Turkey are Mesopotamia Culture And
Solidarity Association (MEZODER, which is an Assyrian NGO),
Diyarbakir Bar Association and the Foundation For Society And Legal
Studies (TOHAV). The project will cover all religious, ethnic and
linguistic minorities in Turkey. There are 4 main components of the

1- Country report: A report that cover all minority rights issues in
Turkey will be published (Spring 2007) in Turkish and English and
possibly in some minority languages; and advocacy work will be done
based on this. 

2- Education: Main activities regarding minority rights and education
are research on the issues (curriculum and intolerance, education in
and of minority languages, problems encountered by the non-muslim
schools, Roma and discrimination&hellip;etc), preparation of
guidelines for the solution of the problem and launch of the

3- Anti-Discrimination: Main activities are research on the
discrimination issues in the country and domestic remedies; drafting
an anti-discrimination law that will prohibit discrimination on the
grounds of race, ethnicity, religion, language, sex. sexual
orientation, disability and age; lobbying for the adoption of the
draft law; and taking 5 strategic litigation cases to the domestic

4- Internal Displaced People/Right to Return and Property: The main
activities are research on the problem; workshop in Sarajevo for
examination of a country example (it took place in June); preparation
of guidelines and a plan of action (plan of action will give
information on the IDP and property issue in Turkey, applicable
international standards, other country experiences and specific
recommendations to the stake holders); dissemination of guidelines in
Cd-Rom and written forms in Turkish, Kurdish and Aramaic; taking 4
strategic litigation cases to the courts.

MRG Roma program work in Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia enters
HUNGARY, AND SLOVAKIA: LESSONS LEARNT? Will be available summer 2006.
The report, authored by Will Guy and Martin Kovats is a product of
Minority Rights Group International&rsquo;s Roma Advocacy Programme.
It examines three Roma-oriented projects in the Czech Republic,
Hungary and Slovakia funded by the European Union&rsquo;s Phare
programme between 1999 and 2003. The study employed methods of
participatory evaluation to identify the experience of Roma
beneficiaries and other stakeholders in the projects, and makes
recommendations for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of
future EU-funded initiatives aimed at improving the lives of Roma
people in the Central and Eastern European region. While the projects
examined were implemented in states which are now EU members, the
lessons learnt should be relevant to a new wave of accession states
with significant Roma populations as well as to other poor and
excluded groups in such countries. For more information on our work
on Roma please contact Roma Co-ordinator Galina Kostadinova via

**Activities coming up **

African Commission Project: GRANTS COMING UP! 

MRGs African Commission project will issue 10 grants of around 1,500
sterling for national advocacy projects. The call has been widely
distributed in Africa and more information will follow on the
projects that receive funding. See MRG's website for more
details on the grant applications

African Commission Project: Working with NEPAD and the AU

MRG will be undertaking fact-finding missions to NEPAD and the
African Union to identify possibilities for co-operation on
increasing minorities and indigenous peoples engagement with
continental and regional mechanisms. 

Conflict Prevention Programme: Conference in New York November 2006

MRG will organize a high-level seminar with international experts,
including representatives from UN bodies in Geneva and New York, and
the office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.
Recommendations from this seminar, in draft form, will be circulated
to other national, regional and international experts. For more
information please contact Zoe Gray on zoe.gray@mrgmail.org

Neelan Tiruchelvam Training Seminar on International Minority Rights

MRG is running a Geneva training seminar with 10 participants to run
from the 2nd to the 10th of August. The focus will be on four
countries - Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia. 

UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations 

The 24th session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations will
take place from 31 July to 4 August 2006 in the Palais des Nations in
Geneva. The main theme will be: "Utilization of indigenous
peoples' lands by non-indigenous authorities, groups or individuals
for military purposes". The Working Group invites Governments,
indigenous peoples, the United Nations system and NGOs to provide in
advance relevant information to contribute to the discussion on the
main theme. Call for contributions to the OHCHR draft publication on
the principle of free, prior and informed consent of indigenous
peoples in relation to developments affecting their lands and natural
resources Governments, Indigenous Peoples and NGOs are invited to
submit any contributions concerning best practices to govern the
implementation of the principle of free, prior and informed consent
of indigenous peoples in relation to developments affecting their
lands and natural resources. MRG is sponsoring three indigenous
representatives to attend &ndash; one each from Nepal, India and West
Papua. Please for further info see


Finance Officer (Donor Reporting). This post ensures that all MRG's
donors receive high quality financial reports on time. Candidates
will have 4 years financial experience, including 2 years experience
of preparing budgets and/or reporting on performance to budget and/or
preparing financial reports to external agencies. Please see the link
below for the full job advert


Database Volunteer Role Minority Rights Group International (MRG) has
a large, complex Access database that is used for many purposes. MRG
is in need of a long-term volunteer to revise, research, update and
maintain our database of existing worldwide contacts. Please see the
following link for the full specifications

There will also be a Media & Events Officer role advertised shortly.
Please check our website http://www.minorityrights.org and
http://www.guardian.co.uk/jobs for details. 


**Already published: **

Arabic translation MRGs November 2005 report: The Constitution of

Religious and Ethnic Relations - see our website to download or
go to

Minority Access to Employment in Montenegro

This study addresses the problem of discrimination in employment in
Montenegro. The aim is to show whether discrimination in accessing
job opportunities and employment of persons belonging to national
minorities and other minority groups exist in Montenegro and if so
what its patterns are. This study is based on legal provisions,
official reports, corresponding NGOs, research and workshop, seminar
and conference reports and empirically gathered data. To download a
pdf copy of the report go to

Bosnia & Herzegovina: National Minorities and the Right to Education

In Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH) the principles of accessibility,
availability, acceptability, non-discrimination and the absence of
segregation are integral to the Education Reform Strategy (ERS). BiH
with the support of the international community aims to implement the
ERS goals to ensure its education system benefits the whole
population. In 2004 "The Action Plan on the Education needs of
the Roma and Members of other National Minorities in BiH" was
adopted. This micro study assesses the extent to which the Action
Plan reflects the educational needs of the Roma and other minorities
or non-constituent peoples. To download a pdf copy of the report go


**Coming up: **

Minority Rights in Kosovo under International Rule: Due out July 2006

Nowhere in Europe is there such segregation as Kosovo. Thousands of
people are displaced and still in camps. Nowhere else are there so
many &lsquo;ethnically pure&rsquo; towns and villages scattered
across such a small province. Nowhere is there such a level of fear
for so many minorities that they will be harassed and attacked,
simply for who they are and what language they speak. And perhaps
nowhere else in Europe is at such a high risk of ethnic cleansing
occurring in the near future &ndash; or even at risk of genocide. And
this has happened after seven years of rule by the international
community. This report tracks a clear failure on the part of the
international protectorate to learn lessons from the past and draw on
the minority rights&rsquo; expertise available to it in the UN and
other bodies. This failure has allowed decision makers to remain
unaccountable, and produced a Constitutional Framework that refers to
minority rights so broadly that they are too wide to be effective.
Instead of integration, the current situation encourages the
opposite: segregation. This report will be published later in July
available to download from 


Minority Rights and Conflict Prevention in Kashmir, Nagaland and

This report will be the first to come out of the current phase of
MRG&rsquo;s Conflict and Genocide prevention programme. It is due to
be published at the end of August 2006. Check our website soon for
more details on the content of the report and details on how to
download www.minorityrights.org 

Electoral Systems and the Protection and Participation of Minorities:
To be Published August 2006 

The right to participate in decisions affecting you is one of the
basic rights of everyone and is particularly important to minorities.
Many ethnic and religious conflicts have been caused by a feeling of
bias and exclusion in political systems. Many attempts have been made
to devise systems that ensure participation. And yet too many
electoral systems that claim to guarantee participation of
minorities, from Lebanon to Bosnia, appear to entrench divisions.
This report will compare systems around the world that have attempted
to ensure minorities can participate in elections and examine the best
models. It will be the first such report to look at what works both
from ensuring participation but also conflict prevention. Check our
website soon for more details on the content of the report and
details on how to download http://www.minorityrights.org

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