Our Oral statement on the interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues

On Wednesday March 12, in the afternoon session of the Human Rights Council, the interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.

fernand de varennes
Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

The Special Rapporteur began his intervention by presenting his report on the visit that he made to Spain from January 14 to 25, and subsequently presented his thematic report on «education, language and the human rights of minorities» in which he stressed the importance of the linguistic dimension for a correct integration of minorities as well as recommended that a series of practical guidelines be drafted to provide concrete guidance on the content and implementation of minority human rights and the use of their languages ​​in the field of education. He further recommended that the guidance document be made available in the six official languages of the United Nations.

Following the report presented by the Special Rapporteur, OIDEL wanted to highlight in its oral statement the importance of language in education as a mechanism for inclusion, and the importance that public authorities have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that all children enjoy a quality education on equal terms.


“Thank you Mr. President,

First of all, we would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his exhaustive work, as well as the numerous country visits, communications, conferences and awareness in order to raise awareness of the human rights of minorities and increase their visibility.

Secondly, we agree that language is a pillar of the identity of many minorities. Moreover, language issues are sometimes among the main reasons for grievances, exclusion and discrimination in education that can lead to tensions between minorities and central authorities. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the use of minority languages by these groups is essential to ensure inclusion and trust, particularly for vulnerable segments of society, such as indigenous peoples and women.

Finally, we would like to mention the reference of the report of public and private education, highlighting that, as the report points, minorities have the right to establish and operate private schools and educational institutions that use their language to teach. Human beings have a right to education, and States must comply with this right by ensuring a quality and public education and guaranteeing to the different communities the establishment of alternative schools to those managed by the State. The main obligations of the states regarding the right to education are not about the preservation of a unique educational model, but rather of assuring the 4 A’s: Ensure that education is Available, Accessible, Acceptable and Adaptable. Public Authorities should have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that the equal respect of the enjoyment of the right to education for all children, regardless of whether they are part of a majority or a minority, and irrespective of income levels

In conclusion as the Special Rapporteur points, it is essential ensuring a pluralistic,inclusive and quality education for all, as indicated by the Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Thank you.”

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Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights


On Wednesday, March 4, under the framework of the Human Rights Council, the Interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Mrs. Karima Bennoune.

The Interactive Dialogue began with the intervention of the Special rapporteur, who emphasized the need to implement measures to provide adequate financial support, visibility, protection and ability to work freely in the cultural sector. She pointed out that the cultural rights defender label cannot be used to undermine human rights protection. She mentioned some examples of positive practices, such as the measures taken to implement the protection of cultural rights defenders in national legislation and policies by including the participation of cultural rights defenders in making rights-related decisions cultural, for example. She also mentioned avenues that can be taken into consideration when the human rights of cultural rights defenders are violated.

Several countries intervened to thank the rapporteur for her great work and highlight the situation in their countries. In the case of Cameroon or Nepal, they highlighted the importance of education for the full realization of cultural rights.

From OIDEL, we did an Oral Statement recalling the importance of the cultural approach on the right to education and therefore, the need to acknowledge the important role of teachers.

First of all, we would like to thank the work carried out by the Special Rapporteur during her years of mandate and thank her for choosing an issue of such importance and relevance as cultural rights defenders.

 Secondly, considering that defenders can be of any gender or age, from any part of the world and from any profession, we would like to highlight the role of teachers. The right to education plays an important role in the realization of cultural rights. As General Comment No. 21 says “The right of every person to participate in cultural life is also intrinsically linked to the right to education” (par.2). In this sense, it is important to recognize the role of teachers who ensure cultural transmission to groups whose culture is excluded from mainstream education, as is the case of certain minorities or indigenous people. We believe that the role of these teachers should be taken into account as human rights defenders, since without their work the intergenerational transmission of certain values and cultural heritage would be impossible.

We encourage the rapporteur to take them into account.

 Thirdly, we would like to highlight what was said by the former Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, who pointed out that defenders working in the field of economic, social and cultural rights – including teachers – They often have more difficulty getting their work accepted as human rights work

 In conclusion, we would like to highlight three recommendations from the reporter’s report.

  1. Adopt cultural rights-based cultural policies that include the work of cultural rights defenders, and protections for them, including strategies and mechanisms for responding to violations, and amend existing cultural policies to ensure these issues are fully covered.
  1. Express support for cultural rights defenders and their work, and encourage non-State actors to do so.
  1. Raise awareness, through human rights education, of the inherent importance of cultural rights.

You can find our Oral Statement at the following link – minute 1:29:54