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UN Expert Applauds European Parliament’s Moves To Protect National And Linguistic Minorities

The UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, today welcomed the adoption of a resolution by the European Parliament to protect national and linguistic minorities, calling it one of the most important developments in decades for minorities.

“These are much needed and welcome developments, as the human rights of minorities appear increasingly threatened or ignored in many countries, even by international and regional organisations,” the UN expert said.

He pointed out that the resolution underlines concerns about the alarming increase of hate crime and hate speech, motivated by racism, xenophobia or intolerance, directed at people belonging to national and linguistic minorities in Europe.

The resolution, which as adopted on 17 December 2020, was in a response to a massive petition submitted as a European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Minority SafePack – one million signatures for diversity in Europe’.

De Varennes said minorities worldwide were being scapegoated and increasingly subjected to discriminatory treatment. “We must urgently take stock and address the rise of hate speech targeting minorities in social and other media, the increase in minorities being excluded from citizenship, and even rollbacks on matters which should be uncontroversial such as the right to be educated in or to be taught one’s own language,” he said.

“The European Parliament’s resolution makes a similar point which I made in relation to the concept of a minority - that it is important to distinguish the various categories of minorities in international law. This resolution does this by acknowledging that there are distinctions between the concept of national and linguistic minorities,” he said.

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