MINELRES: UN OHCHR Update on Minority Issues July-August 2008

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Thu Sep 18 16:30:04 2008

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

Dear colleagues and representatives of minority NGOs, 

Attached, pls find the UN OHCHR July-August 2008 update on minority

Kind regards, 


Ilona Klimova-Alexander
Associate Human Rights Officer
Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Avenue Giuseppe-Motta 48, Office 2-31
Geneva - Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 928 9845; Fax +41 22 928 90 66
E-mail: ialexander@ohchr.org 


Minority Update N14 - July-August 2008
United Nations
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit  

Table of contents

 Minority Fellowship Programmes 2008 and 2009
 Independent Expert on Minority Issues
 Forum on Minority Issues
 The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
 Social Forum
 Call for applications for the United Nations Voluntary Fund on
Contemporary Forms of Slavery
 Universal Periodic Review
 Durban Review Conference Preparatory Process
 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). Selection of the fellows is currently being finalized and
the names will shortly be announced on the fellowships website

The 2009 English-speaking fellowship should 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
above-mentioned fellowships website. 

Contact person: Ilona Alexander ialexander@ohchr.org.

Independent Expert on Minority Issues

>From 27 July to 02 August 2008, the Independent Expert on minority
issues, Ms. Gay MacDougall, conducted a visit to Guyana. During the
course of the visit she met with senior government officials as well as
civil society representatives and members of Guyana's different ethnic
communities including Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese and representatives
of Guyana's Amerindian communities. The findings of the Independent
Expert will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2009.
The Independent Expert will undertake her next country visit to Greece
from 8-16 September 2008. 

On 15 July 2008, Ms. McDougall together with the Special Rapporteur on
contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
related intolerance, Mr. Doudou Diene and the Special Rapporteur on the
human rights of migrants, Mr. Jorge Bustamante, released a statement
expressing their concern about the stigmatisation of the Romani
community in Italy, calling upon the Italian Government to fully uphold
its obligations under international human rights law. The full text is
available at:

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

Forum on Minority Issues

Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 6/15 of 17 September 2007, a
Forum on Minority Issues has been established with the aim to provide
thematic contributions and expertise to the work of the Independent
Expert on Minority Issues; identify and analyse best practices,
challenges, opportunities and initiatives for the further implementation
of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National,
Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; and contribute to the
efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to
improve cooperation among United Nations mechanisms, bodies and
specialized agencies, funds and programmes. 

The Human Rights Council decided that the Forum shall meet once a year
for a two-day thematic discussion, and will gather States
representatives, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized
agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organisations,
regional organisations and mechanisms in the field of human rights,
national human rights institutions, and other relevant national bodies,
academics and experts on minority issues and non-governmental

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 Access to Education". 

In addition to the participants who cover their own expenses, a number
of experts will be selected from all regions of the world to share their
experience in relation to access to education by minorities and provide
specific comments and recommendations to the Forum. These experts will
- members of national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minority groups, 
- experts / professionals in the field of minority education,  
- able to address a wide range of issues relating to the availability,
accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of education for members
of minority groups.
Related expenses will be paid for these experts.

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.

Further information regarding the Forum, including guidelines for
submission of information, accreditation procedures, and Secretariat
contact details, will be distributed shortly and will also be available
on the website of the Forum at:

Contact person for more information: Sylvie Saddier-Calame

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was established
on 14 December 2007 by Human Rights Council resolution 6/36. The Expert
Mechanism will provide thematic advice on the rights of indigenous
peoples to the Council in the manner and form requested by the Council.
The thematic expertise will focus mainly on studies and research-based
advice. It may also suggest proposals to the Council for its 
consideration and approval.

The Expert Mechanism is composed of five independent experts who serve
for a three-year period. We take this opportunity to congratulate the
five new members of the Expert Mechanism:

Ms. Catherine Odimba Kombe (Congo)
Ms. Jannie Lasimbang (Malaysia)
Mr. John Henriksen (Norway)
Mr. Jose Carlos Morales Morales (Costa Rica)
Mr. Jose Mencio Molintas (Philippines)

The first session of the Expert Mechanism will take place from the 1 to
3 October 2008 at the United Nations' Office in Geneva. 

The Expert Mechanism is open to the participation of States, United
Nations system, experts on indigenous issues, NGOs and indigenous
peoples organisations:

More information:

Enquires can also be sent to:  expertmechanism@ohchr.org

Social Forum

The Social Forum is a unique space for interactive dialogue between the
United Nations human rights machinery and various stakeholders,
including grass-roots organizations, and underlines the importance of
coordinated efforts at national, regional and international levels for
the promotion of social cohesion based on the principles of social
justice, equity and solidarity as well as to address the social
dimension and challenges of the ongoing globalization process. 

The Social Forum was originally an initiative (resolution 2001/24) of
the former Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human
Rights (the Sub-Commission) which was the main subsidiary body of the
former Commission on Human Rights. After the Commission on Human Rights
was replaced by the Human Rights Council in 2006, the Human Rights
Council decided by resolution A/HRC/RES/6/13 that the Social Forum shall
continue meeting every year and requested that its next meeting be held
for three working days during 2008. 

The Human Rights Council has decided that the 2008 Social Forum should
focus on: 
(a) Questions relating to the eradication of poverty in the context of
human rights; 
(b) Capturing best practices in the fight against poverty in the light
of grass-roots presentations to the Social Forum; 
(c) Social dimension of the globalization process; 

The next meeting will be held 1-3 September 2008 in Palais des Nations
in Geneva. For more information please see
or E-mail 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 to provide 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:

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 first and second sessions of the UPR Working Group (UPR WG) of the
HRC took place in April and May 2008, and the HRC plenary in June 2008
adopted outcomes of the review of 32 countries, including
recommendations related to minority issues in the following countries:
Finland, Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, India, Argentina,
South Africa, Switzerland, France, Romania, Guatemala, Japan, Sri Lanka,
and Pakistan. The adopted documents, and statements by States and
stakeholders, are accessible at the UPR section of the Extranet at

The archived meetings of the sessions can be viewed through the UN
webcast at http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp.

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 deadlines for the submission of
stakeholders' input have already passed.

The fourth session of the UPR WG is scheduled to take place from 2 to 13
February 2009. Submissions from NGOs are invited by the following

 1 September 2008 for submissions on Cameroon, Djibouti, Mauritius,
Nigeria, Senegal, Bangladesh, China and Jordan; and 
 8 September 2008 for submissions on Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba,
Mexico, Canada, Germany, Russian Federation and Azerbaijan.
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

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
Submissions should be sent to OHCHR at the following email address:

All available UPR documentation is posted at
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 Regional Conference for Africa, Preparatory to the Durban Review
Conference, was be held in Abuja, Nigeria between 24 and 26 August 2008,
as the second in series of regional meetings aimed at preparing for the
review of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action (DDPA). The African
delegates adopted a final document which calls for renewed efforts in
combating racism, discrimination and related issues, notably calling,
among other things, on states "to wage a systematic campaign against
incitement to racial and religious hatred".  It also called for the
"urgent need to address the scourges of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and
Christianophobia, as contemporary forms of racism as well as racial and
violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas directed at
African, Arab, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other communities."

For further information please consult:

Accredited NGOs are invited to attend the second part of the sixth
session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective
implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action that
will take place between 29 September and 3 October as well as the second
part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of
complementary standards that will take place between the 27 and 31
October 2008. Both meetings will take place in Palais des Nations in

If you have any questions regarding these two meetings please contact
Michele Buteau at buteau@ohchr.org.

The second substantive PrepCom will take place from 6 to 17 October 2008
in Geneva. NGOS wishing to apply for accreditation can still do so by
filling in a questionnaire. For more information see

Contact E-mail for more information: adusecretariat@ohchr.org.

Treaty Bodies and country reviews

30 June to 18 July 2008 - CEDAW
The 41st session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW) took place from 30 June to 18 July 2008 in New
York.  During the session the Committee considered the following State
party reports: Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Nigeria, Slovakia, United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Tanzania, and Yemen.  

In its Concluding Observations to the report of Finland the Committee
noted the lack of statistics on the participation of migrant and
minority women in political and public life and in academia and
encouraged Finland to be proactive in its measures to prevent
discrimination against Romani women. While noting various measures taken
by the State party, including the Programme for Roma Integration into
Lithuanian society (2000-2004 and 2008-2010) and the Lithuanian Rural
Development Programme for 2007-2013, the Committee urged Lithuania to
intensify its efforts to eliminate discrimination against vulnerable
groups of women including those belonging to ethnic minorities such as
Roma. The Committee also acknowledged the measures taken by Slovakia
under the Decade of Romani inclusion 2005-2015; however the Committee
expressed concern that Romani women and girls remain in vulnerable and
marginalized situations and urged Slovakia to take effective measures to
eliminate the multiple forms of discrimination against Romani women and
girls. The Committee was also concerned at information received in
respect of Romani women who report to have been sterilized without prior
and informed consent and recommended that Slovakia takes all necessary
measures to ensure that the complaints are duly acknowledged and that
victims are granted effective remedies. Regarding the UK, the Committee
notes that ethnic and minority women are underrepresented in all areas
of the labour market, particularly in senior or decision-making

More information can be found at:

7 July to 25 July 2008 - CCPR
The Human Rights Committee (CCPR) held its 93rd session from 7 to 25
July 2008 in Geneva.  The following State Reports were examined during
this session: France, San Marino, Ireland, and United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland.  The Country Report Task Forces adopted
list of issues on reports submitted by Denmark, Monaco, Sweden and

In its Concluding Observation, the Committee regretted that France's
report lacked sufficient empirical information on issues such as the
political participation of members of ethnic minorities and suggested
the state to review its position concerning the formal recognition of
ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and to reinforce its
legislative framework and institutional mechanisms to exclude all
discriminatory practices that prevent equal access to employment for
persons belonging to ethnic, national or religious minorities. The
Committee also recommended Ireland to recognize Travellers as an ethnic
minority group. The Committee also recommended that the UK should
increase the representation of women and ethnic minorities in the
For more information please refer to: 

28 July to 15 August 2008 - CERD
The 73rd session of the Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) took place from 28 July to 15 August 2008.  The
Committee considered the following State reports during the session:
Ecuador, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Togo Namibia, and
Russian Federation. In its Concluding Observations to the report of
Ecuador while the Committee takes note of Ministerial Decision
guaranteeing the Romani people the right to free association for
peaceful purposes, the Committee is concerned at the Constitutional
failure to grant legal recognition to the Romani people as an ethnic
minority. While noting with appreciation that Travellers/Yenish have
been recognized  by Switzerland as a national cultural minority the
Committee remains concerned that Travellers and Roma, are still
subjected to numerous disadvantages and forms of discrimination and
notes with regret the lack of substantial progress made by Switzerland
in combating racist and xenophobic attitudes towards minorities. The
Committee noted with appreciation the efforts by Sweden to promote the
rights of the Romani minority and recommended to strengthen its efforts
to increase the level of education of members of Romani communities by
raising awareness about the possibility for Romani children to receive
instruction in their mother tongue. The Committee welcomed the creation
of the German Secretariat for Minorities and the enactment of the Law on
promotion of the Friesian language in public life adopted in 2004.
However, while taking note that the State party recognizes German Roma
and Sinti as a national minority, the Committee is concerned that many
Roma and Sinti continue to experience discrimination in the fields of
education, employment and housing. 

The Committee also expressed concern about the distinction between
autochthonous minorities and other minority groups in Austria, inter
alia, the Slovene minority in Carinthia and the Romani and Croat
minorities in Burgenland, and individuals who do not reside in those
areas. The Committee further expressed concerns about the frequent
denial of access to places intended for use by the general public to
persons of African and Latin-American origin, and to Roma. The Committee
encouraged Namibia to revise its electoral laws with a view to broaden
their appeal to ethnic minorities and to include a minimum proportion of
candidates from these groups. Also the Committee expressed concerns
about the high incidence of rape of San women by members of other
communities, which seems to be caused by negative stereotypes. 

For more information please refer to:

15 September to 3 October 2008 - CRC 
The Committee on the Rights of the Child will hold its 49th session from
15 September to 3 October 2008. The Committee will consider the
following State reports: Bhutan, Djibouti, United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland. Under the Optional Protocol to CRC on the
Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, the
following State reports will be considered: Austria, Lithuania, Tanzania
and Uganda. Under the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict the following State reports will be
considered: Tanzania, Uganda, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland. 

More information can be found at:

13-31 October 2008 - CCPR
The Human Rights Committee (CCPR) will be holding its 94th session from
13 to 31 October 2008 in Geneva.  The following State Reports will be
examined during this session: Nicaragua, Monaco, Denmark, Japan and
Spain. The Country Report Task Forces will consider and adopt list of
issues on reports submitted by Australia, Chad, Azerbaijan, Moldova and

20 October - 7 November 2008 - CEDAW
The 42nd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW) will take place from 20 October to 7 November 2008
in Geneva.  During the session the Committee will consider reports from
the following State parties: Bahrain, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada,
Ecuador, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar,
Portugal, Slovenia and Uruguay.


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