UN Special Rapporteur on minority publishes comprehensive report on UPR

UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and UPR Info's Advisory Board member, Rita Izsák, published a comprehensive report on the first cycle of the UPR process. Based largely on UPR Info’s database of UPR recommendations, the report looks into how minorities were raised in the first cycle of the UPR. There were 22 key areas of concern defined, that generated recommendations including – education, ethnicity, human rights and religion. Fourteen key minority groups were also defined, with less than 25% of all minority recommendations referring to the situation of Roma. Other groups included Muslims, Afro-descendants, Slovenians, Baha’is, Sinti, non-Muslims, Dalit’s, Travellers, Kurdish, Turkish, Jewish and Pygmy communities. As one would expect, women and children are key potentially sensitive members of any society and these were subject to specific recommendations reflecting perceived concerns and inadequate protection and universal opportunities.

Some key outcomes include:

  • It is clear that geopolitical factors played a significant role in who is recommending what to whom. Minorities hat have a kin state enjoyed a stronger attention and received more recommendations than those who did not have a kin state.  A Kin state refers to states that border or are geographically close to a region inhabited by co-nationals with whom they share and maintain ethnic, cultural or religious relationships – often a host state.  An exception to the kin issue, is the Roma population; attention given to their situation is remarkable. While the overall situation of Roma in Europe is certainly of high concern, Izsák noted that Member States outside of Europe who also have Roma populations received no recommendations;
  • There were very few recommendations that referred explicitly to  freedom of religion of minorities: for example to “ensure that persons belonging to religious minorities are free to practice their faith” which was accepted by the Union of Comoros.  There were however many recommendations that included a reference to minority religious groups, but many of these employed general expressions and therefore were not formally recorded as referring to minority religious groups.  Consequently, little attention was given to specific religious minorities who are currently persecuted in several countries.

Izsák’s final conclusions stated that given the concerns regarding minority populations across the world, Member States in the UPR process should continue to employ sufficient attention to the situation of national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.  She recommended the following further improvements that could be made:

  • Member States should use the Joint Communication Reports, thematic and country reports by Relevant Special Procedure mandate-holders as references so that their relevant findings can be taken into consideration;
  • Member States should make more specific recommendations;
  • The outcome recommendations of the UN Forum on Minority Issues should be better utilised in formulating more concrete recommendations;
  • When specific concerns are relevant to minority groups, Member States should state that so they can appear in the UPR Info database and can be part of the next surveys;
  • Geopolitical factors should be minimized and objectivity increased;
  • Religious and linguistic minorities should benefit from stronger attention.

The report can be downloaded here.