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UN INDEPENDENT EXPERT ON MINORITY ISSUES COMMENCES VISIT TO ETHIOPIA



27 November 2006

Ms. Gay McDougall, the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, will undertake a country visit to Ethiopia from 28 November until 12 December 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.

The Independent Expert will consider a wide range of minority issues while in Ethiopia. Ms. McDougall will visit Addis Ababa, and will also undertake visits to regions including Oromia, Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz, to gather first-hand information from a range of sources. 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 measures to alleviate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for members of minority communities.

Ms. McDougall welcomed the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia, the first visit of the mandate to an African State. Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. For more information about the role and function of the UN Independent Expert, please also visit the homepage: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm