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21 June 2006

Ms. Gay McDougall, the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, will undertake a country visit to Hungary from 26 June until 3 July 2006 to consult on issues related to her mandate. The mandate of the Independent Expert was established in 2005 to promote implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, and to identify successful practices in the field of minority issues.

The Independent Expert will consider minority issues including the situation of Roma communities in Hungary and the particular situation of Roma women. Ms. McDougall will visit Budapest, and will also undertake visits to minority communities in other regions to gather first-hand information. She will hold meetings including with representatives of the Government, non-governmental organizations and community members, and United Nations officials. The visit offers an opportunity to consider policy and practice relating to minority communities, and consult on issues including participation, education, employment, language and culture, and the system of minority self government.

Ms. McDougall welcomes the opportunity to travel to Hungary and appreciates the cooperation of the Government of Hungary in advance of her visit. Following this visit she will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Ms. McDougall, the first Independent Expert on minority issues, was appointed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour, in July 2005. A former member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Sub-Commission on Human Rights, Ms. McDougall was Executive Director of the NGO Global Rights until April 2006. She is currently Scholar in Residence at the American University, Washington.

For further information regarding the visit of the Independent Expert on minority issues, please contact Mr. Graham Fox at gfox@ohchr.org or on + 41 22 917 9640. For more information about the role and function of an UN Independent Expert, please also visit the homepage http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm