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UN forum to tackle statelessness and its impact on minorities

GENEVA (26 November 2018) – The voices of minorities from around the world will be the focus of the 11th United Nations Forum on Minority Issues to be held in Geneva on 29-30 November.

Guided by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, and chaired by minority rights expert Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, more than 500 participants from governments, the UN, intergovernmental, national and regional organisations, and civil society will discuss and recommend ways to protect and promote the rights of stateless minorities.

“Statelessness is a human rights issue disproportionately affecting minorities. More than three quarters of the world’s known stateless populations belong to minorities,” said de Varennes. “Discriminatory practices, arbitrary nationality requirements and other underlying human rights issues are at the core of the causes of statelessness.”

This year’s agenda will focus on: 

  • Root causes and consequences of statelessness affecting minorities - preventing statelessness through a human rights approach;  
  • Statelessness resulting from conflicts, forced population movements and migration affecting minorities - main challenges and possible solutions;
  • Ensuring the right to a nationality for persons belonging to minorities through facilitation of birth registration, naturalisation and citizenship for stateless minorities;
  • Minority women and children affected by statelessness - advancing gender equality in nationality laws.

The two-day discussion will help the Special Rapporteur frame  recommendations to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.

The Forum is open to media, and interviews can be arranged with forum participants.

To watch a video, and for more about the programme and participating speakers, companies and organisations, please visit: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Minority/Pages/Session11.aspx  


Background: Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 6/15 of 28 September 2007 renewed by resolution 19/23 of 23 March 2012, a forum on minority issues has been established to provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, as well as thematic contributions and expertise to the work of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues. The Forum shall identify and analyze 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

The Forum meets annually for two working days allocated to thematic discussions. The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Mr Fernand de Varennes, is tasked to guide the work of the Forum, prepare its annual meetings and report on the thematic recommendations of the Forum to the Human Rights Council. 

Fernand de Varennes was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2017. He is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things. 

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For additional information and media requests please contact:
Jeremy J Laurence, Media Officer, at +41 22 9179383 / Jlaurence@ohchr.org 
or the Forum Secretariat at: +41 22 917 9181 / minorityforum@ohchr.org). 

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org