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Forum on Minority Issues


Inaugural Session of the Forum on Minority Issues 15 and 16 December 2008

The inaugural session of the Forum took place on 15 and 16 December 2008 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The thematic focus of this first session of the Forum was “Minorities and the Right to Education”. The Forum was opened by the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, and opening remarks were made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, the Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, and the Chairperson of the Forum, Ms. Viktoria Mohacsi.

As required in resolution 6/15, the Forum achieved the active participation of representatives of Member States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and mechanisms in the field of human rights, national human rights institutions and other relevant national bodies, academics and experts on minority issues, and NGOs. Over 370 individuals were accredited from all categories to participate in the Forum, including delegates from over 40 States and representatives of some 90 NGOs.

The views of experts and participants from minority communities were given a particularly high priority within the proceedings of the Forum. Several experts from each region were identified on the basis of criteria including their belonging to a minority group and their professional expertise in the field of education, particularly as it interfaces with the rights and experiences of minorities.

On the basis of the provisions of resolution 6/15 and in the wider context of promoting implementation of the Declaration in all regions, the focus of discussions was broadly based around three core elements: identification of challenges and problems facing minorities and States; identification of good practices in relation to minorities and education; and consideration of opportunities, initiatives and solutions. A set of draft recommendations was prepared and circulated prior to the Forum. The draft recommendations were developed in collaboration with Patrick Thornberry. The draft further benefited from information, surveys and studies received by the independent expert. Participants were invited to target their contributions towards developing, improving and refining the draft as the subsequent outcome recommendations document.

Pursuant to resolution 6/15, a summary of the discussions at the Forum was prepared by the Chairperson, and recommendations by the Forum were included in the Independent Expert’s annual report to the Human Rights Council’s 10th session in March 2009. Both the Chairperson’ summary and the Forum’s recommendations are posted on the Forum’s web site.

Key documents for the Forum:

Side events:

Statements: