UNPO Participates in 11th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues: ‘Statelessness: A Minority Issue’
On the occasion of the 11th United Nations Forum on Minority Issues held in Geneva, UNPO and several of its Members were present highlighting the struggle of the world’s minorities, un- and underrepresented peoples and nations. With this year’s topic focussing on statelessness, UNPO additionally organised a side event discussing the consequences of structural and systematic discrimination as leading to effective exclusion and de facto statelessness, while drafting a list of recommendations for the Forum Secretariat and the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.
On 29 and 30 November 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights invited minorities, human rights defenders, civil society, international organisations and country delegations to discuss the interconnection between the promotion and protection of the human rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and statelessness. Led by the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, the Forum is an exceptional opportunity to raise grievances and concerns, while simultaneously offering suggestions and recommendations directly to the Human Rights Council. Among the topics being discussed were root causes and consequences of statelessness affecting minorities, statelessness resulting from conflicts, ensuring the right to a nationality for persons belonging to minorities through facilitation of birth registration and the impact of statelessness on minority women and children.
UNPO was represented by two delegates, who both took the floor on respectively the issue of statelessness as a result of conflict, with particular focus on the case of Gilgit-Baltistan and the issue of minority women and children with particular focus on the case of the Haratin in Mauritania. Additionally, the Forum was attended by UNPO Member representatives from Kabylia, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Madhesh, Tibet, Savoy, Ogaden, West Balochistan, East Turkestan, Chameria, the Afrikaners, Southern Mongolia, the Ahwazi Arabs, West Papua and Acheh. Many of them took the opportunity of raising their concerns to the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and the experts and Chair of this Forum’s session. Non-UNPO Member representatives from Iranian Kurdistan, Al-Ahwaz, Ambazonia and the Haratin were also present at the Forum.
UNPO Side Event on Minority Empowerment
On the second day of the Forum, 29 November 2018, UNPO hosted a side event with the title ‘Minority Empowerment: A Human Rights Approach to Counter Statelessness’.Where the Forum primarily looked at the issue of de jure statelessness, the UNPO side event sought to put focus on de facto statelessness, experienced by many UNPO Members. De facto statelessness can be argued as being an effective exclusion from participation in economic, social and political life or a lack of access to basic services due to structural and systematic discrimination. The conference was moderated by UNPO representative, Jens Ladekarl, and the panel consisted of representatives from the Ogaden Youth and Student Union (OYSU), the Chittagong Hill Tracts Foundation, the Non-Resident Madheshis Association and Friends of Kabylia. The conference firstly discussed the root causes of discrimination and how they led to effective exclusion. Secondly, constructive approaches to counter discrimination were identified, as well as the role of the international community in this struggle against marginalisation. A video of the entire UNPO side event can be watched via this link. Among the highlighted themes were the importance of international community involvement in upholding international treaties and conventions through diplomatic means. However, it was also stated that real politics is often a barrier, which therefore requires communities to take initiative themselves. Both local and international solidarity between those affected by this issue are important to strengthen cohesion and create alliances. A document highlighting UNPO’s main observations and recommendations regarding this year’s theme has been delivered to the Secretariat of the Forum and the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.
Recommendations from the UNPO Side Event: ‘Minority Empowerment: A Human Rights Approach to Counter Statelessness’ (text) (PDF)
Interventions by UNPO Members:
West Papua (text) (PDF)
Chameria (text) (PDF)
Acheh (text) (PDF)
Acheh (video) (MP4)