Africa-Middle East Regional Forum on Minority Issues:
“Conflict prevention and the protection of the human rights of
15-16 June, 2021 - Online Meeting
Address by the OHCHR Regional Representative in the MENA region, Roueida El Hage:
It is an honour for the OHCHR Regional Office for MENA to participate in this important Regional Forum on Minority Issues.
We congratulate the Special Rapporteur on this inclusive and multi-stakeholder initiative implemented in four regional fora. This collective experience-sharing from across the world is crucial to better understand how the world could provide better prevention and protection for the human rights of minorities.
The MENA region is home to rich and diverse ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural communities, existing side-by-side for centuries. However, over the last decade, a vastly more turbulent picture has been painted for the region affecting directly and indirectly these communities. There has been an alarming escalation in conflicts, with detrimental consequences, including and not limited to the massive scale of displacement of ethno-religious groups that have fled their homes and homelands to escape persecution by extremist groups.
The atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State in the Levant in Iraq and Syria against ethnic and religious groups, as well amongst the broader population, terrorized whole communities, committing most serious crimes amounting to genocide in some cases.
While the situation remains deeply challenging and worrying, we are seeing incredible displays of community resilience, as well as holistic efforts by states, the international community, religious leaders, civil society and faith-based organizations to prevent and address the conflict and improve the protection framework.
Indeed, in the context of conflict prevention, ensuring the rights of society’s most at-risk – in particular minorities – requires a multilateral, multistakeholder approach, the very aim of this regional forum. We are therefore greatly encouraged and optimistic for the discussions over the next two days, as well as the outcomes of the other regional fora, to collectively elaborate robust and meaningful recommendations.
In this context, the Regional Office is undertaking a multi-disciplinary study to identify and address the root causes of discrimination and inequalities faced by ethnic and religious groups in the region. We look forward to disseminating the study this year, and we would be sharing initial findings in a session later today.
Thank you very much for this important opportunity, and I wish you all fruitful discussion and outcome.
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