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Promoting and Protecting Minority Rights

A Guide for Advocates

image of Promoting and Protecting Minority Rights
Minorities make significant contributions to the richness and diversity of society, and States that recognize and promote minority rights are more likely to remain tolerant and stable. The United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations recognize that minority rights are essential to protect those who wish to preserve and develop values and practices which they share with other members of their community. This Guide offers information related to norms and mechanisms developed to protect the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities. It provides detailed information about procedures and forums in which minority issues may be raised within the United Nations system and in regional systems. It is hoped that this Guide will be useful in assisting minority advocates to make full and effective use of existing international mechanisms and, ultimately, to promote and protect the rights guaranteed under international instruments.

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The human rights council and its subsidiary bodies

The Human Rights Council is the most important intergovernmental human rights body in the United Nations. It provides a number of avenues through which various concerns, including minority rights, may be made known to United Nations experts and Government representatives. Among the relevant human rights mechanisms established by the Council is the Forum on Minority Issues, which meets annually to discuss particular thematic issues relevant to minorities; the universal periodic review, which considers the human rights situation in every State Member of the United Nations every four and a half years; and the complaint procedure, under which communications alleging a consistent pattern of gross violations of the human rights of minorities may be submitted to the Council for consideration.

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