Minority Rights Group International
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2011)|
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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is an international human rights organisation founded with the objective of working to secure rights for ethnic, national, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples around the world. Their headquarters are in London, with offices in Budapest and Kampala. MRG has an international governing Council that meets twice a year. MRG has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
The organisation was set up in the 1960s by a group of activists and academics "who feel a special concern that the rights of minorities to preserve and develop their cultural integrity are being infringed in many countries ... the MRG has been established to protect the rights of minorities to co-exist with majorities, by objective study and consistent international public exposure of violations of fundamental rights as defined by the UN Charter". Its first director was David Astor, editor and proprietor of The Observer newspaper at the time.
MRG raises funds for its work from individuals, trusts and foundations, governments, and the European Union. All of MRG's publications, films and databases are available for free from the website but the organisation does encourage anyone using them to make a donation to support the work of the organisation for future research, advocacy and support to partners.
MRG works with around 150 partner organisations around the world, providing education and training to help them secure their rights in society. It lobbies governments and the United Nations alongside and behalf of minorities. MRG publishes reports used by activists worldwide to educate their communities, highlight issues in the media and put pressure on governments to create better conditions for minorities and indigenous peoples. MRG’s publications are aimed to be used as campaigning documents that expose the current situation minorities and indigenous peoples live in, give historical context and offer strong recommendations for change.
MRG also produces a regularly updated online resource, the World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, which provides profiles of minority communities in every country of the world. It also publishes an annual report, the State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, and an annual index, Peoples Under Threat, which ranks countries according to the degree of physical danger facing communities.
Legal cases taken up by MRG are done in view of promoting and protecting minority rights, strengthening the rule of law and contributing to conflict prevention around the world. Some key legal cases MRG has fought include challenging discrimination in the electoral system in Bosnia, as well as the right of Sikhs to wear turbans in France when having passport photos taken or at school. Other international cases MRG have supported include the Chagos Islanders against the UK government, the Endorois of Kenya in their claim to ancestral land rights and Sikhs in India. MRG supports cases by way of submitting briefs that expand areas of law that may be unfamiliar to the judiciary such as in the case of segregation in education in the Czech Republic, to producing publications in support of a case.
Recent MRG publications
- Land, livelihoods and identities: Inter-community conflicts in East Africa (December 2011)
- Iraq’s Minorities: Participation in Public Life (November 2011)
- Minority rights: Solutions to the Cyprus conflict (March 2011)
- Still Targeted: Continued Persecution of Iraq's Minorities (Arabic edition) (February 2011)
- No war, no peace: the denial of minority rights and justice in Sri Lanka (January 2011)
- EU Financial Assistance to the Western Balkans: a minority-focused review of CARDS and IPA (November 2010)
- Daawo La'aanta: Beelaha laga tirada Badan yahay Soomaaliya ee La Illaawey (November 2010)
- No redress: Somalia's forgotten minorities (November 2010)
- Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: failing minorities and indigenous peoples (July 2010)
- Still Targeted: Continued Persecution of Iraq's Minorities (June 2010)
- Uncounted: the hidden lives of Batwa women (in English and French) (May 2010)
- Discrimination and political participation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (March 2010)
Minority Voices Newsroom
The Minority Voices Newsroom was developed by MRG as part of a 3-year development and training project. The Minority Voices programme aims to increase the inclusion of minority and indigenous peoples' perspectives in the EU media, particularly in coverage of development issues relating to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to increase awareness among development policy-makers of the specific needs of minority and indigenous communities in meeting the MDGs.
The Newsroom provides news stories that cover interviews, photo stories, press releases, new reports and media statements. It aims to provide a source for journalists to identify stories and media contacts amongst minority and indigenous activists regarding minority and indigenous issues and the MDGs. It also serves as a platform for activists and individuals from within minority and indigenous communities to engage with EU-based media.
- Founding statement of aims, Minority Rights Group
- Barzilai, Gad. Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003). ISBN 978-0-472-03079-8