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United Nations Guide for Minorities

The Guide is currently being updated and expanded. The new version will be available by the end of 2011.

Many States have minorities within their borders. Although no firm statistics exist, estimates suggest that 10 to 20 per cent of the world's population belong to minorities. This means that between 600 million and 1.2 billion people are in need of special measures for the protection of their rights, given that minorities are often among the most disadvantaged groups in society, their members often subject to discrimination and injustice and excluded from meaningful participation in public and political life.

The Guide has been prepared with a view to assisting minorities in understanding how to seek protection of their rights through the different procedures existing at the international and regional levels. Practical advice is also given on how to take legal action where members of minorities consider that their rights under a particular treaty have been violated.

The contents of the Guide, in Word format, are as follows:

Part I Core documents

The text of the 1992 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities

The final text of the Commentary to the UN Declaration on Minorities by Mr. Asbjorn Eide, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Minorities

Part II Pamphlets

Pamphlet No. 1 : Minorities, the United Nations and Regional Mechanisms

Pamphlet No. 2 : The UN Working Group on Minorities

Pamphlet No. 3 : The Charter-based system of the UN

Pamphlet No. 4 : Human Rights Treaty Bodies and Complaint Mechanisms

Pamphlet No. 5 : Protection of Minority Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System

Pamphlet No. 6 : Minority Rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights

Pamphlet No. 7 : Minority Rights under the European Convention on Human Rights

Pamphlet No. 8 : The Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

Pamphlet No. 9 : The High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Pamphlet No. 10 : Minorities and ILO

Pamphlet No. 11 : The Protection of the Rights of Minorities and UNESCO

Pamphlet No. 12 : Protection of Refugees who belong to minorities: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Pamphlet No. 13 : The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (DAC)

Pamphlet No. 14 : The European Union: Human Rights and the fight against Discrimination

Part III Annexes

Annex I of Pamphlet No. 1: Listing of web-sites