Ms. Rita Izsák (Hungary)
Ms. Rita Izsak, Independent Expert on Minority Issues
© OHCHR photo
Ms. Rita Izsák (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council and assumed her functions on 1st August 2011. She is the second holder of the mandate of Independent Expert, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Rita Izsák holds a Masters in Law diploma from the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary. Inspired by her own experiences of prejudice and discrimination - her father's family was forcibly moved under post-war population transfers from Czechoslovakia (present day Slovakia) to Hungary due to their Hungarian ethnicity in 1947 and her mother is of Romani origin - she has been working on human and minority rights for a decade. She started her career in the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center and later became a Consultant with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Open Society Institute, the Roma Education Fund, and the Association for Women's Rights in Development. She completed field missions in Somaliland/Somalia where she worked with the Somaliland National Youth Organization (seconded by the London-based Progressio) and gave human rights lectures in Hargeisa Law University. Afterwards, she moved to Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to join the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe as a Human Rights Officer. She was the Chief of Staff of the Social Inclusion State Secretariat of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Public Administration and was responsible for several key priorities under Hungary's EU Presidency, including the establishment of the European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. Currently Ms Izsák is President and CEO of the Tom Lantos Institute (TLI) based in Budapest, Hungary, a research institute and think-tank with a particular focus on human rights and minority rights.
Ms. Gay McDougall (United States) was the first holder of the mandate of Independent Expert on minority issues between July 2005 and July 2011.