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Violence and atrocity crimes against minorities, how to prevent and address them?

Forum on Minority Issues - 25-26 November 2014 – Palais des Nations, Geneva

GENEVA (21 November 2014) – Over 500 participants, including international specialists on minority issues and representatives from States and minority communities from all regions, will gather in Geneva from 25-26 November 2014 to discuss existing measures and seek new initiatives to prevent and respond to violence and atrocity crimes targeted against minorities worldwide.

“Minorities continue to face violence or mass atrocities, as numerous situations show globally,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, announcing the seventh UN Forum on Minority Issues.

“This is not a matter of history but a present day reality that requires national and international action to prevent or end violence, which is often perpetrated with complete impunity,” she warned.

The Forum will focus on some of the key issues of global concern facing minorities: understanding the root causes of violence and atrocity crimes against minorities; improving the prevention of violence and atrocities; measures for resolution, protection and security after the violence has broken out; and key actors and activities to promote reconciliation, peacebuilding and managing of diversity in post-violence situations.

“The voices of minorities will once again be at the forefront of our discussions,” Ms. Izsák said. “Their personal experiences will help the Forum to consider initiatives to better prevent and respond to violence, and identify specific post-violence reconciliation measures to ensure lasting peace.”

The Forum provides a unique and inclusive venue for dialogue and for the elaboration of practical recommendations from all participants: UN Member States from all regions, minority communities, experts from UN bodies and specialized agencies, international organizations, academics and other experts.

The annual Forum is guided and prepared by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and the Chair of the seventh session is Patrick Thornberry, former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and an international expert on issues of minorities.

A set of recommendations stemming from the session on preventing and addressing violence and atrocity crimes targeted against minorities will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2015. 

Simultaneous translation in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish will be provided.

Meeting times will be 10:00 a.m. to 13:00 p.m. and 15:00 to 18:00 p.m. Side events will take place from 13:00 to 15:00 p.m. on both days and full details will be provided in advance and on the website of the Forum.

All the sessions are open to the media. For press accreditation, please log on to Media Accreditation at UNOG: http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/70991F6887C73B2280256EE700379C58?OpenDocument

The Forum on Minority Issues was established in 2007 by the Human Rights Council to provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues relating to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. It identifies and analyses best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives for the further implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, under the guidance of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák. 

Documentation, including the concept note, provisional agenda and draft recommendations: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Minority/Pages/Session7.aspx

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/documents/issues/minorities/booklet_minorities_english.pdf

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Federica Morvay, Forum Secretariat (+41 22 917 9697 / minorityforum@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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