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What is an Independent Expert?

An Independent Expert is one of a number of special procedures that also include thematic and country Special Rapporteurs, Representatives of the Secretary General, or Representatives of the Commission. The title of a special procedure does not reflect any hierarchy or indication of powers, but is the result of political negotiation. The most important issue is the mandate given to the expert, as it is formulated in the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights.

Need for an Independent Expert on minorty issues

Many violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights have a basis in discrimination, racism and exclusion on the grounds of the ethnic, religious, national, or racial characteristics of the victim group. At the same time, emerging best practices in the field of human rights, particularly in promoting economic, social and cultural rights, stress the value of diversity and social inclusion. In integrated societies, national, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups are able to live confidently together, communicate effectively, and recognize value in their differences and in their society’s cultural diversity .

While a number of UN bodies, mandates and mechanisms focus on violations of human rights that display discrimination, racism or xenophobia against minority groups and their members as a root cause, the minority rights component of such abuses is often hidden. When the minority status of the victims remains unaddressed, subsequent attempts to achieve solutions for individuals or communities may be limited. As such, the Independent Expert focuses on the root causes of grievances, revealing issues of concern relating to minorities, with a view to avoiding duplication with other bodies and taking advantage of the differences in their mandates.