Regional Forums on the 30th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Minorities 1992- 2022
‘The fate of minorities’ was at stake, echoing the same calls made by the UN in 1948, when the General Assembly adopted a resolution on this important issue of global concern. The 30th Anniversary of the UNDM represents a key opportunity for all concerned to take stock of the state of minority rights protection, to identify gaps in the minority protection regime, and to assess how such gaps fuel threats to minorities and the protection of their rights, and to make recommendations on the ways forward. It is time to ‘Review, Rethink, Reform’ the global recognition, protection and promotion of the rights of minorities for a secure life in a diverse and just world.
The UNDM was adopted by the General Assembly in 1992 with a view to promoting more effective protection of the human rights of minorities and more significantly, to work towards the realisation of the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and various human rights instruments at the international and regional levels. In particular, the Preamble of the UNDM asserts that the protection and promotion of minority rights significantly contribute to the political and social stability of states in which minorities reside, and also encourage cooperation across states and peoples.
Yet, despite it being thirty years since the UNDM’s adoption, we are at a juncture yet again where gaps in the minority rights protection regime are evident in the face of grave violations.
Minorities continue to remain vulnerable to oppression and face denial of their human rights in every corner of the globe. More than three quarters of the world’s stateless are persons who belong to minorities , and in many countries around the same proportion are the targets of hate speech and hate crimes . Most of the world’s violence and conflict target minorities on the basis of their religious, linguistic, cultural, racialised and ethnic identities. These attacks have manifested in various forms and domains ranging from online attacks, threats and hate speech to physical acts of aggression, assault, murder and even mass rape, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The coordinated and orchestrated nature of many of these attacks demonstrate the complex historical, territorial, and structural inequities that continue to manifest due to a lack of trust, unequal distribution of resources and powers, and most crucially, a lack of civic space for minority communities to participate in society safely. On a global scale, violations of minority rights continue unabated and have reached a crisis point which must be addressed urgently and effectively.
Rationale for Regional Forums
Four regional forums on the 30th Anniversary of the UNDM are convened for 2022: Europe-Central Asia was held on 2nd and 3rd May; Asia-Pacific will be held on 14th and 15th June, Africa-Middle East on 6th and 7th September and Americas on 10th and 11th October.
The purpose of the regional forums is to broaden minority, expert, state and international organisation (IO) participation in the principal review mechanism of the UNDM: the UN Forum on Minority Issues. Participation is geared towards the drafting of regional recommendations on select minority rights discussed annually by the UN Forum. These regional recommendations inform the work of the SRMI, and the regional forums more broadly inform the work of the UN Forum in Geneva.
The overall purpose of the four regional forums is to undertake a critical assessment of the problem-solving capacity of the UNDM through a gap analysis focusing on the normative framework, institutions and mechanisms, and the effectiveness of participation. The aim is to formulate concrete recommendations for the improvement of the regional and global minority protection regimes.
Specific objectives include:
- Identify how the existing global and regional minority protection regimes (norms, institutions and mechanisms) can be improved to be more effective at preventing and addressing domestic minority rights violations and at the promotion of minority rights;
- Assess the ways regional forums can bridge the gaps between domestic, regional and global protection regimes;
- Design action plans and platforms for local, regional and global civil society cooperation for the effective implementation of minority rights;
- Based on the presentations and discussions held at the regional forums, develop specific recommendations to address the gaps identified in relation to the improvement and effectiveness of the global and regional minority protection regimes.
These regional insights will feed into the thematic work of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues for his report to the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2023. Furthermore, discussions at the regional forums will also inform the work and recommendations of the 15th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues, which will take place in Geneva 1 - 2 December 2022, to mark the occasion of the UNDM’s 30th Anniversary.
The 30th Anniversary of the UNDM marks a critical turning point, a pivot, to put a spotlight on these crucial gaps and to ensure that minority issues and the rights of minorities are mainstreamed into the UN’s agenda more concretely going forward, hence the theme for this year’s forums ‘Review, Rethink, Reform’.
Details about the regional forums can be found below.
- Europe – Central Asia Regional Forum 2022
- Asia-Pacific Regional Forum 2022
- Africa-Middle East Regional Forum 2022
- Americas Regional Forum 2022
 Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, General Assembly resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992.
 In 1948, the General Assembly declared in a resolution that the United Nations could not remain indifferent to the “fate of minorities”. See resolution 217 (III) C, (10 December 1948).
 “This is Our Home”: Stateless Minorities and Their Search for Citizenship, UNHCR Statelessness Report 2017, available at https://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/wp-content/uploads/UNHCR_EN2_2017IBELONG_Report_ePub.pdf.
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, 2019 Hate Crime Data Key Findings available at https://hatecrime.osce.org/infocus/2019-hate-crime-data-now-available