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Geneva, 12 September 2007: The United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, will undertake a country visit to France from 19 to 28 September 2007. The Independent Expert will visit Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg and consult with the Government, representatives of minority and anti-discrimination organizations, with community members, academics, and others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, anti-racism and discrimination.

Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council.

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 on the issues addressed by her mandate.

Ms. Gay McDougall, the first Independent Expert on minority issues, is a former member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Sub-Commission on Human Rights. She was Executive Director of the NGO Global Rights until April 2006, and is currently Scholar in Residence at the American University, Washington.

For more information about the role and function of the Independent Expert, please visit the homepage http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm