The UN Forum on Minority Issues convenes for two days from 1 December, with this year’s theme Review. Rethink. Reform. 30th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Minority Rights.
The 15th session of the forum – the main annual event of the UN system focused on minorities, involving more than 500 delegates – will be guided by the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes, and chaired by Daniel Abwa, Professor of History and Director of Academic Affairs and Cooperation at the Université de Yaoundé 1.
“The declaration needs to be better understood, acknowledged and implemented since minorities continue to face denial of their human rights in every corner of the globe,” said de Varennes. “More than three-quarters of the world’s stateless are persons who belong to minorities, and in many countries around the same proportion are the targets of hate speech and hate crimes. As the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also acknowledged a few months ago at the General Assembly’s high-level event on the 30th anniversary of UN Declaration, the time has come to rethink and reform the protection of minorities with the UN showing leadership to address inaction and negligence in the protection of minority rights.” Most of the world’s violence and conflict target minorities on the basis of their religious, linguistic, cultural, racial and ethnic identities, the Special Rapporteur said.
Officials from governments, the UN, intergovernmental, national and regional organisations, civil society and minority representatives from different parts of the world will be among those joining the forum.
This years’ agenda will focus on the normative frameworks and the mainstreaming of the declaration at the UN; minority rights defenders and their role in promoting principles of the declaration; filling the gaps in the implementation of the declaration and urgent situations faced by minorities.
The forum starts at 10am on 1 December with a live performance by a group of minority artists. Speakers will include the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk; Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th UN General Assembly; Ambassador Federico Villegas, President of the United Nations Human Rights Council; and Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities.
Discussions at the forum, along the outcomes from four regional forums held during the year, will help the Special Rapporteur frame recommendations to be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2023.
The forum will be held in Geneva in person and will be livestreamed at media.un.org. A limited number of pre-recorded interventions by minority delegates will be accommodated. Interpretation in all official UN languages and International Sign Language will be provided, as well as captions in English, Spanish and French.
The forum is open to media, and interviews with participants can be arranged.