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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 organization for security and co-operation in Europe

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has played an important role in the development of normative and institutional instruments for the promotion and protection of minority rights. The Copenhagen Document on the Human Dimension contains one of the most comprehensive sets of international minority rights standards, and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities is the only permanent international body for the prevention of inter-ethnic conflict within and between States. Other OSCE bodies are also relevant for the protection of minority rights. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) conducts extensive human rights activities in the field of human rights education, monitoring and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination. It has a department dedicated to improving the lives of Roma and Sinti. OSCE field operations also engage in work which is relevant for minority groups, for example, through building Government and civil society capacity for good governance, economic participation and human rights.

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