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Report of the independent expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák (A/HRC/19/56)

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Human Rights Council Nineteenth session Agenda item 3 Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Summary

The present report is the first to be presented to the Human Rights Council by the newly appointed independent expert on minority issues, Ms. Rita Izsák, who was appointed by the Council and assumed her functions as mandate holder on 1 August 2011.

The report provides a summary of activities undertaken by the mandate holder since taking up her functions. The report also includes a discussion of the independent expert’s expected priorities for her first term as mandate holder. In addition the report also contains a review of the activities of the former independent expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, since the submission of her previous report to the Human Rights Council in March 2011 until she completed her tenure as mandate holder on 31 July 2011. During this period, the mandate holder undertook two official country missions, to Rwanda and to Bulgaria, to consult on minority issues in those countries.

The report contains an update on the work of the Forum on Minority Issues following the fourth session of the Forum in November 2011, which focused on “Guaranteeing the rights of minority women and girls”. The independent expert highlights the fact that women and girls belonging to minorities frequently face multiple or intersecting forms of discrimination emanating from their status as members of minorities and as women or girls. This may make minority women and girls particularly vulnerable to violations and the denial of their rights in both public and private life. Without explicit recognition of the different life experiences of minority women and men, such discrimination will often go unnoticed and not be addressed adequately. The Forum addressed the challenges and opportunities for minority women to fully enjoy all their rights, including the rights to have access to quality education, to take part effectively in economic life, to access labour markets and to participate fully in social, cultural and political life.

The report highlights the fact that 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The independent expert welcomes and encourages activities in all regions to mark the anniversary and to raise awareness of the Declaration and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.