Independent Expert on minority issues
An important element of the work of the Independent Expert is conducting country visits. Country visits require official invitations from the Governments concerned. Normally two country visits can be undertaken each year and the Independent Expert strives to conduct visits in all regions. Once an invitation has been made the Independent Expert travels to the country and meets with national authorities, including Minister and other senior government representatives with responsibilities related to minority issues, members of the judiciary and of legislative bodies; UN and other international agencies; civil society and non-governmental organizations. Meeting directly with minority communities and organizations is also a key element of the Independent Expert's visits. See Terms of Reference for Fact-Finding Missions by Special Procedures.
The reports on these country visits, published annually as addenda to the Independent Expert’s report to the Human Rights Council, include an assessment of the relevant institutional and legal framework concerning the rights of minorities and the right to equality and non-discrimination in the countries visited, as well as a general description of the main issues affecting minorities. The reports include a number of conclusions and recommendations addressed to the Government in question and to other actors.
The Independent Expert’s evaluation of minority issues in the countries that she visits is based on the 1992 Declaration on Minorities and other relevant international standards, from which she has identified four broad areas of concern relating to minorities globally. These are:
(a) the protection of a minority’s survival, through combating violence against them and preventing genocide;
(b) the protection and promotion of the cultural identity of minority groups and the right of national, ethnic, religious or linguistic groups to enjoy their collective identity and to reject forced assimilation;
(c) the guarantee of the rights to non-discrimination and equality, including ending structural or systemic discrimination and the promotion of affirmative action when required; and
(d) the guarantee of the right to effective participation of members of minorities in public life, especially with regard to decisions that affect them.