Interview with New UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues

Nicolas Levrat at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva, October 27, 2023. Olivier Vogelsang

Last September, Nicolas Levrat began his 6 year term as the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues after taking over from Dr Fernand de Varennes.

Throughout his career, minority issues played a central role for Levrat. He studied law at the University of Geneva, and in the 1990s, he joined the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, focusing on minority issues, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. Subsequently, he took an academic position in Brussels at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. When asked if he had concrete plans for his new mandate, he said, "No. First, situations evolve with time, maybe new situations will become more problematic than the ones we face today. Second, you have great freedom as a special rapporteur, but if you want to deal with a specific issue in a specific country, then you will have to deal with the state. You cannot say: ‘I will solve this problem.’ It is not always that easy.” 

As Special Rapporteur, he will visit at least two countries a year and draft reports based on his visits, which are presented at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.  

Levrat contends that multilateral work has become much harder these days as the “cooperative mood” in the world has changed. “The bloc logic is back. You support your allies in whatever they do,” he says. This makes it much more difficult for the international community to intervene and, “put pressure on certain states to improve their human rights record.” 

The full interview can be found here