UN expert raises alarm at increasing number of minorities at risk of statelessness worldwide
by Fernand de Varennes
Special Rapporteur on minority issues
The world is facing a significant and immediate increase in the number of stateless minorities around the world, a UN expert warned today, raising concerns about a potential security and humanitarian crisis in India.
“Statelessness may in fact be increasing significantly in the coming years and even months, contributing to a potential humanitarian crisis and destabilizing situation, because of the continued risk of hundreds of thousands and even perhaps millions of individuals who mainly belong to Bengali and Muslim minorities in India being deemed to be ‘foreigners’ and in all likelihood non-citizens in the state of Assam, and who may therefore find themselves stateless,” the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, told the UN General Assembly.
De Varennes urged the international community to develop guidelines for equal nationality rights for minorities as a matter of urgency.
In his annual report, the Special Rapporteur also provided a working definition of what constitutes a minority for the purposes of his mandate and UN activities. The objective approach, based on whether a group constitutes less than half of the population in the entire territory of a State, whose members share common characteristics of culture, religion or language, and not dependent on any particular status such as citizenship, would address “inconsistencies, uncertainties and even contradictions that can currently exist within and between United Nations entities,” de Varennes said.
He pointed out that without affecting national or regional concepts of what is a minority, it was important to have greater clarity internationally.
“There has sometimes been a] reluctance even to refer to minorities because of no common understanding as to who is a minority, leading to omissions where minorities should have been recognised as a particularly vulnerable group,” the Special Rapporteur said.
De Varennes highlighted a 2019 draft for a legally binding instrument to regulate in human rights law the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises which withdrew all references to “minorities” in the provisions that recognize the special attention required for groups of persons that face heightened risks of violations and disproportionate impacts on their human rights from businesses activities.
“I am led to understand that while in an earlier version of this draft minorities were identified as a vulnerable group, this reference was eventually omitted because of concerns over the meaning of this term – an unfortunate situation since in many parts of the world, it would seem generally understood that some minorities can face heightened risks of violations of human rights within the context of business activities in some parts of the world,” he said.
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2 billion people globally live on just 3 dollars a day
by Global Call to Action Against Poverty
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, as every 17th October, calls us again to strengthen our commitment to change our world and enable millions of people to lead different lives.
Around 2 billion people globally live on just 3 dollars a day. Around 3.4 billion people live on 5.5 dollars a day. Almost half of the world population live every day in a condition that the majority of the citizens of the North would not be able to face. Half of the world’s population!
Can we just wait and see? Even if we renew this call every year, we’ll never be tired of repeating that we need a different effort. We need justice and we need it now.
Can we just place blame? No, we want policies! Policies to transform our world now: we want fair rules for trade, effective rules for financial markets, fiscal justice to finance redistribution, universal social protection, health and education, water and food for all, sustainable and decent work for all, in a world that cares to put human persons, their dignity and intelligence at the core, instead of greed, egoism and fear.
These are the proposals we raised in the People’s Assembly Declaration, when we met in September in New York, with a huge number of organizations and movements of civil society from all over the world.
Our call could be seen as naïve. We know that some powerful people are even ready to use weapons to fight the poor, as is currently happening in the Middle East. But we know as well that we are the heirs, with a lot of friends in the world, of the struggles against slavery, injustice and war in the past centuries. Struggles that our mothers and our fathers together won. These legacies are the jewels feeding our hope.
GCAP – the Global Call for Action Against Poverty – is calling again to fight poverty, inequalities and injustice in all their forms. We do it chanting again that We Shall Overcome.
One in nine face hunger: Inequality drives global figure to 10-year high
For the third year in a row, hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, back to levels last seen nearly 10 years ago, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food told the UN General Assembly.
Today, Hilal Elver said, one in nine people face hunger and 2 billion people are food insecure.
This lack of progress in the realization of the right of everyone to food confirms that states have struggled to fulfil their promise to “leave no one behind,” as embedded in the 2030 Agenda. Yet the SDGs do provide a roadmap for adopting policy reforms and expand social and legal protections for the most vulnerable groups.
“The Sustainable Development Goals, are a potentially transformative tool to advance the realization of the right to food, as well as other economic, social and cultural rights,” the expert said.
Accomplishing the goals first and foremost requires tackling the inequalities that have undermined the right to food and left too many behind.
“A human rights based vision of the Goals gives high priority to the more than 2.5 billion people who depend on agriculture for both subsistence and their livelihoods. It also requires dispersing wealth to close the inequality gap within and among countries and between individuals,” said Elver.
Implementing fiscal policies that redistribute wealth will help reallocate power and promote greater access to productive resources within food systems, especially for the world’s poor, as redistribution via taxation or reallocation of existing spending may resolve over 75 percent of global poverty.
The Special Rapporteur also called on States to continue to expand access to social protection systems, saying that less than half of the world’s population is effectively protected by legally enforceable social protections and that coverage is often limited by inadequate implementation.
Ensuring that no-one is left behind also requires eliminating the structural discrimination that interferes with the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, Elver said.
“Women and girls, youth, peasants, rural communities, indigenous peoples and migrants face persistent discrimination and increased vulnerability to hunger in disaster and conflict settings. States must use the Goals as a blueprint for actively engaging and empowering groups that have been historically left behind.”
The global agenda for change cannot be achieved if the right to food is not guaranteed. States must trade in market-driven policies for human rights based solutions and allocate sufficient resources to support the implementation of the Goals, Elver said. http://hilalelver.org/
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