Mar 28, 2019



The rights of communities to shape their own political and social destinies are core values for all democratic systems. In a truly democratic and pluralistic society, the political system should provide mechanisms for different communities or groups to express their preferences, participate in decision-making, and pursue self-determination within the framework of democratic principles.

Democratic pluralism is characterized by the distribution of power among various groups to ensure the representation of diverse interests and viewpoints. This system allows for more representative and inclusive decision-making processes.

The degree of political participation of minority groups is a strong indicator of the level of democracy and respect for human rights in a society. Unfortunately, UNPO members are often denied the right to participate in the political system and face government persecution when attempting to make their voices heard through non-violent means. This leads to infringement of various other human rights, including freedom of religion and association, freedom of expression, access to justice, as well as cultural, linguistic, and educational rights. Democratic values are at the core of UNPO’s mission, which focuses on advocating for the representation of marginalized communities and using peaceful solutions to ensure their rights are respected.

What are we going about?

In a moment where democracies are at stake, the "Democratic Pluralism Campaign" aims to contribute to the strengthening of pluralistic democracies worldwide and works to reinforce democratic pluralism and democratic values by ensuring UNPO members have equal representation at international, national, and local levels.

In particular, the UNPO works towards safeguard the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion and the right to information for UNPO members while combating online disinformation and hate speech.

To do so, the UNPO aims to develop a capacity building training programme for UNPO members focusing on conflict resolution, non-violence, negotiation, effective communication, UN  advocacy training, and conflict management while facilitates dialogues and forums where diverse communities can express their perspectives, promoting inclusivity and mutual understanding.



Unrepresented peoples are under threat and persecuted worldwide. At the United Nations states seek to exclude their voices and resort to bullying tactics. Across the world self-determination movements are repressed and activists and their loved ones are subjected to reprisals. We are campaigning for a robust response to suppression of self-determination movements and reprisals against their activists, as well as for reform of the international system to allow unrepresented peoples to participate and to be better protected when they do.The Problem

Unrepresented peoples worldwide face enormous challenges when advocating at international forums. 

Under an increasingly reduced space for civil society worldwide, the democratic nature of multi-lateral international bodies is at stake. Particularly concerning is how restrictive the United Nations (UN) mechanisms have become for unrepresented nations and peoples, who do not have a formal seat at the UN table. 

Advocates for these peoples often face harassment and intimidation from some UN Member-states, which resort to a range of “blocking” tactics to silence their voice. Among the many obstacles for effective participation of NGOs and ‘unpresented diplomats’ at the UN is the politicization of ECOSOC registration: the practice of keeping large numbers of NGOs that engage the UN within the grey area of being officially unregistered. 

A particularly deceptive tactic used by some member states has been to establish and/or support government-affiliated NGOs (GONGOs). Once registered with ECOSOC, these GONGOs can operate within UN NGO forums and spaces, and counter human rights accounts with government propaganda, all while in the guise of being genuine, independent bodies.

In this context, a recurrent tactic employed by states is the misuse of labels attributed to ‘unrepresented diplomats’. Some states brand defenders from unrepresented nations as ‘separatists’, while other defenders are falsely labeled as ‘terrorists’. There is a pattern of state bullying and repression tactics against activists engaged in promoting the right to self-determination of their communities, including through criminalization of their activities, arbitrary arrests, and torture and cruel and inhuman treatment.

What we are doing about it

Over the past 3 years we have been working with our partners at the University of Oxford and the Tibet Justice Center to document instances of reprisals taken out against unrepresented peoples. We released a report with our findings in July 2019.

With the release of the report we have begun supporting unrepresented nations and peoples to file their applications for ECOSOC status, to advocate for their acceptance and to submit complaints through the appropriate UN procedures when reprisals have been taken out. 

We are continuing to document and raise awareness of reprisals both at the UN level and within other international or regional bodies that are facing similar problems, aiming to build international support to condemn and respond to these individual cases.

In addition we are documenting attacks and intimidation by authoritarian states against activists engaging with international fora located in Europe and the U.S.A., asking governments to provide greater protection to them when they do, and we are responding to targeted efforts to suppress self-determination movements through awareness raising activities and complaints to U.N. Special Procedures.