Interactive Dialogue with the IE on minority issues
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Geneva, 13 March 2012
Statement by Austria
Thank you Mme President.
Since this is your first interactive dialogue with the Council, let me wish you all the best and success for your term as mandate holder. We welcome your report in which you set out your thematic priorities over the next three years. We appreciate that your work will also take into account the views of minorities and NGOs.
One of your priorities mentioned in the report is related to the rights and security of religious minorities. We are deeply concerned about the growing discrimination and the rising number of violent attacks against members of religious minorities and their places of worship in many parts of the world. Moreover, since article 1 of the Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to minorities requires States to protect the existence and religious identity of persons belonging to minorities and to encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity, we believe that this issue needs greater attention.
In your report, you explain that you will seek to consult with Governments, religious communities and leaders as well as to identify examples of positive practices from all regions in order to enhance security, dialogue and mutual understanding. Have you already established a roadmap and could you give us more detailed information about your planned activties in this regard?
In advancing the rights of persons belonging to minorities, we also have to address economic and social conditions and marginalisation. Still today, persons belonging to minorities continue to face high level of poverty and discrimination that impacts on their rights and opportunities. Since we approach the deadline for achieving the Millenium Development Goals, we would like to know if and how you will effectively address those challenges during your mandate.
In the course of your work as Independent Expert, you will seek to engage systematically and substantively with grass-roots minority rights organisations in every region. We welcome this focus since we believe that minorities themselves have a vital role to play in ensuring their rights. In addition, you have stated in your report that you will develop and update the civil society database of the OHCHR with national organisations working in the area of minority rights. When will this database be available?
The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Lingustic Minorities. This anniversary offers an important opportunity to reflect on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as well as on achievements, best practices and challenges with regard to the implementation of the Declaration. A variety of events are organised in order to celebrate the anniversary. Could you give us an update on your activities planned for this year?
Before concluding, let me also express our appreciation for the successful completion of the recent annual session of the Forum on Minority Issues focusing on the issue of guaranteeing the rights of minority women and girls. Women and girls belonging to minorities face unique challenges and multiple forms of discrimination. Therefore, we would welcome if this issue continues to range amongst your priorities for the next three years.
I thank you.