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UN Independent Expert on minority issues to visit Viet Nam

GENEVA (1 July 2010) – The UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall, will visit Viet Nam from 5 to 15 July 2010 to hold consultations on minority issues and to examine the human rights situation of the country’s numerous minority groups.
“Viet Nam is a country of great diversity with more than 50 distinct groups exhibiting unique ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural characteristics and identities,” said the Independent Expert, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government.
“As in many countries with such diversity, challenges exist to ensuring that members of minority groups can fully realize all their human rights and live in conditions of equality,” Ms. McDougall noted. “I consider this mission as providing a valuable opportunity to understand those challenges, to identify good practices, for dialogue, and to assist the Government to meet its obligations with respect to the rights of minorities.”
The Independent Expert will begin her visit in Hanoi before travelling to regions of significant minority populations, including the Northern Highlands, the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta. She will meet with senior Government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, community members, academics, and others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion and promotion of equality and non-discrimination.
Under her UN mandate, Ms. McDougall is required to promote implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities* and to identify challenges as well as successful practices in regard to minority issues.
Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Independent Expert will hold a press conference at 14:00 on 15 July 2010 at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offices at 25-29 Phan Boi Chau Street in Hanoi.
The mandate of the Independent Expert is one of the thematic Special Procedures human rights mandates reporting to the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Gay McDougall (United States) was appointed as the first holder of the post of UN Independent Expert on minority issues in July 2005.
(*) Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/minorities.htm