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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 inter-American human rights system

All 35 members of the Organization of American States fall within the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has the authority to prepare reports on the human rights situation in any country in the Americas. It may also receive and consider complaints that a State party has violated the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights or, with regard to those States which have not yet become a party, under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The American Convention on Human Rights creates an Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is competent to issue binding judgements and to provide reparations when the Convention has been violated. This chapter describes the circumstances under which minorities can use the Commission and the Court to secure protection for their rights.

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