MINELRES: OHCHR Update on Minority Issues: September-October 2008

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Mon Nov 17 12:34:43 2008


Original sender: Ilona Alexander <IAlexander@ohchr.org>


United Nations
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit  
ialexander@ohchr.org

Minority Update N°15 - September-October 2008


Table of contents
· Minority Fellowship Programmes 2008 and 2009
· Inter-Agency Group on Minorities (IAGM)  
· Independent Expert on Minority Issues
· Forum on Minority Issues
· Social Forum
· Call for applications for the United Nations Voluntary Fund on
Contemporary Forms of Slavery
· Universal Periodic Review 
· Durban Review Conference Preparatory Process
· CESCR General discussion on "Discrimination and economic, social and
cultural rights"
· Treaty Bodies and country reviews


Minority Fellowship Programmes 2008 and 2009

The 2008 Arabic-speaking fellowship will take place 1-19 December 2008
(to coincide with the inaugural session of the Forum on Minority Issues,
see below). 

The following candidates have been selected for the programme: 
- Mr. Sameer Nooruldeen Hasan al Faili (Kurd Failiya from Iraq)
- Mr. Biram Dah Abeid (Haratin from Mauritania)
- Mr. Siddik Mohamad Al Jabran (Shia Jaafari from the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia) 
- Ms. Avin Mahmoud Hawas (Kurd from Syria)
- Ms. Amna Abdalla Osman Wadi (Zaghawa from Sudan) 

The 2009 English-speaking fellowship will take place at the OHCHR office
in Geneva from around April for three months. The application deadline
is 17 November 2008. More information and the application form can be
found on the fellowships website:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/fellowprog.htm.

Contact person: Ilona Alexander ialexander@ohchr.org.


Inter-Agency Group on Minorities (IAGM)  

The fifth consultation of the IAGM took place on 15 October 2008 at the
Palais Wilson in Geneva, with the participation of the ILO, IPU, OHCHR,
UNHCR, UNICEF, UNITAR and WHO. Ms. Gay McDougall, the Independent Expert
on Minority Issues joined the group via a videoconference for one agenda
item - update and Q&A session on the inaugural session of the Forum on
Minority Issues. 

An Information Note for OHCHR staff and other practitioners, entitled
Towards Developing Country Engagement Strategies on Minorities, which
was developed upon the request of and in co-operation with the IAGM, was
launched at the meeting.  The Note will shortly be placed at the OHCHR
website and disseminated widely among OHCHR staff, especially in the
field, for comments. It is still considered a work in progress and it is
hoped that this road-testing will help the OHCHR to evaluate the
usefulness of the note and improve it for a final hard copy publication. 

Other agenda items included OHCHR minority fellowships and interagency
cooperation; recent developments at the Human Rights Council, especially
the Universal Periodic Review and its consideration of minority issues
during the first cycle and discussion about interagency cooperation for
the future review cycle and in the follow-up processes; and the UNDP/IPU
project "Promoting Inclusive Parliaments: The representation of
minorities and indigenous peoples in Parliament".

Contact person: Ilona Alexander ialexander@ohchr.org


Independent Expert on Minority Issues

The Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, visited
Greece from 8 to 16 September 2008. In her press statement issued on
September 2008, she declared that the visit enabled her to gather
substantial information on legislation and policy and to identify
positive practices related to the rights of minorities and disadvantaged
groups. The Independent Expert visited the cities of Athens and
Thessaloniki, the region of Western Thrace and the Prefecture of
Florine. She consulted with senior government officials, civil society
representatives and community members, including Roma, Muslims and
representatives of other religions. The Independent Expert will report
fully on her findings to the Human Rights Council in March 2009.

Contact person for more information: Graham Fox gfox@ohchr.org.


Forum on Minority Issues

The first session of the Forum will take place on 15 and 16 December
2008 in Palais des Nations. The thematic focus for this year will be
"Minorities and the Right to Education". 

The outcome of the Forum will consist in a set of thematic
action-oriented recommendations, which will be presented in March 2009
by the Independent Expert to the Human Rights Council, as an addendum to
her annual report.

Draft recommendations will be prepared in advance, on the basis of:
contributions by selected organizations and experts, the existing
international norms and standards, the current doctrine on the issue,
and will be provided to the Forum participants for their comments.

Non-governmental and other civil society organisations wishing to
accredit representatives to the 2008 Forum are required to fax a request
to the Secretariat (+ 41-22 917 90 06) by Monday 17 November 2008.

Further information regarding the Forum, including guidelines for
submission of information, details of the accreditation procedure, and
Secretariat contact details are available on the website of the Forum
at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/minority/forum.htm.

Contact person for more information: Sylvie Saddier-Calame
ssaddier-calame@ohchr.org


Social Forum

The Social Forum (SF) was held from 1 to 3 September 2008, at Palais des
Nations. Under the main themes of "poverty and human rights" and "social
dimension of the globalization process", the SF heard 28 expert
presentations on a wide range of topics and their relationship to
poverty: the normative framework of human rights and extreme poverty;
foreign debt; international trade policies; the role and responsibility
of the State, NGOs and transnational corporations in poverty
eradication; international assistance and cooperation in poverty
reduction and eradication; decent and favourable work conditions; good
governance/corruption; access to affordable essential drugs and health
care; climate change; and food security, the food crisis and the right
to food.

The SF was attended by more than 140 representatives from Member States,
UN funds, programmes, and specialized agencies, and other
intergovernmental bodies, as well as NGOs and civil society
organizations .

The report of the SF is scheduled for consideration by the Human Rights
Council at its tenth session in March 2009.

Please consult the website
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/poverty/sforum.htm for more
information on the SF, including the presentations to the 2008 session.
 
Contact E-mail for more information: socialforum@ohchr.org.


Call for applications for the United Nations Voluntary Fund on
Contemporary Forms of Slavery

The United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery was
established in 1991 with the purpose of providing humanitarian, legal
and financial aid to individuals whose human rights have been violated
as a result of contemporary forms of slavery. Funding is obtained by
means of voluntary contributions from Governments, non-governmental
organizations and other private or public entities.  

NGOs can request a maximum amount of 15,000 United States dollars per
grant from the Fund. Projects undertaken with previous Trust Fund grants
include medical and psychological aid, food, shelter, and vocational
training to victims of trafficking for sexual and economic exploitation,
support to rehabilitation centres for sexually and physically abused
street children and a project to identify and release bonded labourers
in the carpet industry and stone quarries. Other projects have provided
victims with the means to generate sustainable sources of income, such
as sewing machines, hairdressing equipment, or farming tools.  

Applications for project grants have to be submitted by 31 December 2008
for analysis by the secretariat of the Fund. Admissible applications are
examined by the Board of Trustees at its annual session in September
2009. Application forms and guidelines cane be obtained from Melanie
Clerc, mclerc@ohchr.org,  Tel: +41 22 928 9737, Fax: +41 22 928 9010.
More information is available on the website of the fund:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/about/funds/slavery.


Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

In 2006 the General Assembly (GA) decided that the Human Rights Council
(HRC) shall "undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective
and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human
rights obligations and commitments..." (GA resolution 60/251). 

The third session of the UPR WG is scheduled from 1 to 12 December 2008
and will consider the following countries: Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi,
Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel,
Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia,
Uzbekistan, and Tuvalu. 

The fourth session of the UPR WG is scheduled to take place from 2 to 13
February 2009 and will consider the following countries: Cameroon,
Djibouti, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Bangladesh, China and Jordan,
Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Russian
Federation and Azerbaijan.

The deadlines for the submission of stakeholders' input for both of
these sessions have already passed.
The fifth session of the UPR WG is scheduled to take place from 4 to 15
May 2009.  Submissions from NGOs are invited by: 
· 3 November 2008 for submissions on Central African Republic, Chad,
Comororos, Congo, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen and Afghanistan; and
· 10 November 2008 for submissions on Uruguay, Belize, Chile, Malta,
Monaco, New Zealand, Slovakia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia.

The sixth session of the UPR WG is scheduled to take place from 30
November to 11 December 2009.  Submissions from NGOs are invited by: 
· 13 April 2009 for submissions on Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam
and Cambodia; and
· 20 April 2009 for submissions on Republic of Korea, Costa Rica,
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Norway, Portugal and Albania.

NGOs are invited to contribute information for consideration and
possible inclusion by OHCHR in a summary of stakeholders' input for the
UPR WG sessions. Please note that the page limit for submissions is 5
pages when submitted by individual stakeholders, and 10 pages when
submitted by large coalitions of stakeholders. More detailed reports may
be attached for reference only. This information will be available on
line for others to access. A note of information and guidelines for
relevant stakeholders on the UPR is available at
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBODIES/UPR/Documents/TechnicalGuideEN.pdf. 

Submissions should be sent to OHCHR at the following email address:
UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org. 

All available UPR documentation is posted at
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.
Contact for further details: OHCHR Civil Society Unit, tel: + 41 22 917
96 56; fax: + 41 22 917 90 11; email: civilsocietyunit@ohchr.org.


Durban Review Conference Preparatory Process

The second Substantive Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom)
for the Durban Review Conference met in Geneva from 6 to 17 October
2008. The session saw the beginning of negotiations on the draft Outcome
Document of the Review Conference. 

During the first week of the session, Member States made an initial
compilation of suggested paragraphs for the Outcome Document of the
Durban Review Conference. All relevant documentation in relation to the
five sections of the draft Outcome Document is available at: 
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/DurbanReview/session2-
documentation.htm.

During the second week of the session, Member States started reviewing
the compilations for each of the five sections of the draft outcome
document. 

In terms of participation of NGOs in the PrepCom, it was agreed that
NGOs will take the floor after the reading of each section. However,
this arrangement was changed because only the reading of one section was
completed. NGOs were then allowed to speak on the last two days on all
the remaining sections. Several NGOs took the floor and made concrete
proposals regarding the final outcome document of the Review Conference. 

The PrepCom Bureau also met with NGOs on 6 October 2008.

The PrepCom took decisions regarding the continuation of the preparatory
process and agreed to convene a third substantive session in Geneva from
15 to 17 April 2009. 

Therefore, the deadline for receiving applications from new NGOs (those
that do not have consultative status with ECOSOC, did not participate at
the WCAR and have not been accredited by the Preparatory Committee for
the Durban Review Conference) that wish to be accredited to the Durban
Review Conference has been moved forward to 10 February 2009. In order
to be considered, applications for accreditation by NGOs must be
received by the Secretariat before this date. Those NGOs that applied
for accreditation after the original deadline had elapsed (1 August
2008) are kindly requested to resubmit their applications.

The PrepCom further decided to establish an inter-sessional open-ended
intergovernmental working group with a mandate to continue and finalize
the process of negotiations on and drafting of the outcome document of
the Durban Review Conference on the basis of the compilation of
proposals resulting from the work of the second substantive session of
the PrepCom and any further contributions, and to report thereon to the
third substantive session of the Preparatory Committee. This new working
group will meet for a total of up to 10 working days in advance of the
third substantive session of the PrepCom: its first organizational
meeting is scheduled on 27 November 2008, the first session of the
Working Group will take place from 19 to 23 January 2009, and its second
session from 6 to 9 April 2009 (These dates may be subject to change). 

The second part of the sixth session of the Intergovernmental Working
Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and
Programme of Action is taking place from 3-7 November 2008 (instead of
from 29 September to 3 October as originally announced).

The OHCHR Anti-Discrimination Unit is now publishing an E-bulletin for
NGOs on the Durban Review Conference. If you want to be added to the
mailing and/or for any other queries E-mail: adusecretariat@ohchr.org.
For more information see:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/DurbanReview/sessions.htm.


CESCR General discussion on "Discrimination and economic, social and
cultural rights"

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will hold a
half-Day of General Discussion (DGD) on discrimination and economic,
social and cultural rights, in accordance with article 2 (2) of the
Covenant. The DGD will take place in Geneva, OHCHR, Palais Wilson, 52,
rue des Paquis, 1201 Geneve, Ground Floor Conference Room, on Monday 17
November 2008 from 15.00 to 18.00. 

The General Discussion will 
· Explore the various obligations that article 2 (2) imposes on States
parties; 
· Analyse the prohibited grounds of non-discrimination; and, 
· Reflect on possible means State parties can adopt at the national
level for the implementation of article 2 (2). 

Draft General Comment on non-discrimination

The DGD will offer an opportunity to the Committee to review its draft
General Comment on non-discrimination in the light of the comments and
suggestions made by the experts.

States parties, United Nations specialised agencies and bodies, United
Nations human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions,
trade unions, employers' organisations, non-governmental organisations,
academic institutions and other interested organisations or individuals
are invited to participate in the DGD and also to provide comments and
suggestions on its draft General Comment on non-discrimination.
Registration form which needs to be submitted no later than by 10
November 2008 is available at
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/discussion17112008.htm.

Comments and suggestions on the draft General Comment should be sent to
the Secretariat by email (CESCRdiscussionday@ohchr.org) by 17 November
2008.


Treaty Bodies and country reviews

15 September to 3 October 2008 - CRC

>From 15 September to 3 October 2008, the Committee on the Rights of the
Child held its 49th session, in which the State party reports of Bhutan,
Djibuti, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as
well as UK overseas territories and crown dependencies were considered.

In its concluding observations to the Bhutan report, the Committee
expresses concern over the ability of children belonging to minority
groups, in particular of Nepalese ethnic origin, to enjoy their own
culture, to profess and practice their own religion, and to use their
own language and recommended that the State party recognizes these
rights.

In relation to the report submitted by the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland, the Committee noted various measures taken
by the State party, including plans to consolidate and strengthen
equality legislation, with clear opportunities to mainstream children's
right to non-discrimination into the UK anti-discrimination law
(Equality Bill). However, the Committee expressed concerns that in
practice certain groups of children belonging to minority groups, such
as Roma, Irish Travelers but also others, continue to experience
discrimination and social stigmatization. Therefore the Committee
recommended that the State party ensure full protection against
discrimination on any grounds by strengthening its awareness-raising and
other preventive activities against discrimination and, if necessary,
take affirmative actions for the benefit of these vulnerable groups of
children. The Committee also expressed concern at the increased numbers
of children in alternative care and, in particular, the high percentage
of children of African descent, children with disabilities and children
from ethnic minorities therein. The Committee was similarly concerned
that children of African descent and children of ethnic minorities
sometimes face long period waiting for adoption by a family of the same
ethnic origin. 

The Committee also reviewed, under the Optional Protocol to the CRC on
the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography State
party reports by Australia, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda. The
Committee's concluding observations for Tanzania and Uganda expressed
its concern about the lack of statistical data disaggregated by age,
sex, minority group, socio-economic background and geographic location.
The Committee also reviewed State party reports of Tanzania, Uganda and
the UK under the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict. Under this protocol, the concluding remarks
on the UK report mentioned its active policy of recruitment of children
into the armed forces and recommended that the State ensures that this
recruitment is not conducted in a manner which specifically targets
ethnic minorities and children of low income families.

For more information please refer to:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs49.htm.


13 to 31 October 2008 - HRC

The 94th session of the Human Rights Committee took place from 13 to 31
October 2008. During the session the Committee considered the State
Party reports of Nicaragua, Monaco, Denmark, Japan and Spain.

In its concluding observations to the report of Denmark the Committee
recommended that the State party should pay particular attention to the
self-identification of the individuals concerned in the determination of
their status as persons belonging to minorities or indigenous peoples.
The Committee recommended the State to translate and disseminate the
concluding observations into minority languages spoken in Denmark,
including Faroese.

Regarding the report submitted by Japan, the Committee requested that
the State party's fifth periodic report and the present concluding
observations be published and widely disseminated, to the extent
possible, in national minority languages. 

During this session, the Country Report Task Forces also adopted list of
issues on reports submitted by Australia, Chad, Azerbaijan the
Netherlands and Rwanda.

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs94.htm.


20 October to 7 November 2008 - CEDAW

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is
holding its 42nd session from 20 October to 7 November 2008 in Geneva.
The Committee is considering the following State reports: Belgium,
Canada, Myanmar, Portugal, Slovenia, and Uruguay. 

The concluding observations will soon be available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws42.htm.


3 to 21 November 2008 - CESCR 

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will hold its 41st
session from 3 to 21 November 2008. The Committee will consider the
following State reports: Philippines, Angola, UNMIK, and Sweden.
More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/cescrs41.htm.

This Committee will also hold its Pre-sessional Working Group from 24 to
28 November. During this session, it will consider the following State
reports: Cambodia, Chad, Cyprus, Madagascar, Poland, Republic of Korea.
For more information please visit:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/cescrwg41.htm.


3 to 21 November 2008 - CAT

The Committee against Torture will hold its 41stsession from 3 to 21
November 2008, during which it will consider the State reports of China,
Lithuania, Montenegro, and Serbia.
More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats41.htm.


12 to 30 January 2009 - CRC

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will hold its 50thsession from
12 to 30 January 2009 and will consider the following State reports:
Malawi, Moldova, and the Netherlands.
More information will soon be available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs50.htm.


19 January to 6 February 2009 - CEDAW

The 43rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women will meet from 19 January - 6 February 2009. During this
session, the Committee will consider the following State reports:
Armenia, Germany, and Lybia.

More information will soon be available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws43.htm.


16 February to 6 March 2009 - CERD

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold its
74th session from 16 February to 6 March 2009. The Committee will
consider the following State reports: Bulgaria, Congo, Croatia, Finland,
Montenegro, Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia, and Suriname.

More information will soon be available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds74.htm.



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