Tag Archive for Minorities

“Indigenous people have been the more organic framers of what a Shared Society should be”

Today we celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
According to the UN, there are 370 million indigenous people in the world across 90 countries, representing 5,000 different cultures and speaking around 7,000 languages. They represent unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment.
During Club de Madrid’s Working Group on Shared Societies and environmental sustainability, the role of indigenous people was one of the major topics discussed. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Former Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, was part of the group. We asked her about the role of indigenous people and Shared societies, what are the challenges when it comes to inclusion and more.

Question: The role of indigenous people and Shared Societies? How Indigenous population themselves can overcome environmental obstacles that we are facing now?
Answer:

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Q: What is the role of the Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN?
A: The Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN is a mechanism for indigenous peoples with the mandate of saturating the UN system with the perspectives of indigenous peoples across the globe.
It is a unique entity within the United Nations because 8 elected experts on indigenous issues from State governments and 8 nominated indigenous peoples representatives compose it. The nominations come from indigenous organizations from around the globe.

Q: What are the challenges that indigenous people face regarding inclusion?
A: The key challenge here is getting member states of the UN to pay attention to the outcome document and breed life into de aspirations and into the call to action of Club de Madrid’s outcome documents.
Very much so like the fact that though in 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the key problem and the frustration is the lack of implementation of this declaration in order for indigenous people to effectively enjoy and exercise the human rights that are firmed in that instrument.
World leaders should realize that it is in their best interest and in the interest of their citizens to begin the implementation of that UN declaration. If the implementation of the rights and standards are effectively and genuinely put in place, it would be less pressure upon national governments and societies as a whole, because then indigenous people would become more effective participants in the design and implementation of national agendas for sustainable development, for appropriate sustainable and equitable economic development, for example.

 

Read the final outcome document of the working group on sustainability and Shared Societies here.

Chicago Police Recruits More Minorities

Protesters Continue to Demonstrate Against Police Killings

At a time when interactions In the United States of America between police and minority communities it is important not to forget the efforts that are being made to address the problems. In Chicago, the police are emphasizing the recruitment and hiring of minority police officers.

Research shows that having minority cops in minority neighborhoods has a strong symbolic and physiological effects of fostering more intimate, more trusting bonds between the community and the police which at times helps to prevent needless violence. As stated by Fox News, currently, about 70% of the 14,000 officer applicants are black, Hispanic and Asian, which constitutes a 13% jump in minority applicants. Recruiters visited churches, schools, community events and advertised in Spanish to bolster interest among minorities to apply. The goal is to ¨build a police force that represents the diversity of the entire city¨ and change the ¨culture¨ of policing.[1]

The aims of the Chicago police align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society that respects diversity and protects human dignity. More specifically, the current efforts of the Chicago police department are tied with SSP´s Commitment X, which calls for measures to reduce intercommunity tensions and hostility and ensure that members from all communities are protected from abuse, intimidation and violence.

Hopefully the recent steps aimed at bolstering minority representation in the police force will adhere to the aims of Commitment X, especially as it emphasizes the importance of police in acting as community leaders who respect the diverse structure and ethnic nuances of areas which they guard. Having a responsible, respectful police force which is representative of its community and does not rely exclusively on force to mediate conflicts will be a step towards building a much more wholesome shared society.

 


[1] “To Rebuild Trust, Chicago Police Recruit More Minorities.” Fox2now. Fox News, 23 Feb. 2016. Web.

<http://fox2now.com/2016/02/23/to-rebuild-trust-chicago-police-recruit-more-minorities/>.

Shared Societies at the Oscars

Oscars

The Oscar´s gala celebrated yesterday in Los Angeles left, besides awards, serious critics for its lack of diversity among the nominees. “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn´t even get the job”, said Chris Rock, host of the gala. None of the nominees were black, a fact that ignited complaints that ended in a boycott from various artists, and the representation of Hispanic nominees relies on Alejandro González Iñarritu and his team.
Although the film industry is not ideal when it comes to promote social inclusion (since 2000 only 3% of nominations have gone to Hispanic people when they represent 16% of the population, just 1% to Asians; and women make 20% less than their male colleagues), perhaps things are changing.

The Screen Actors Guild awards (SAG) celebrated last January 30th is a small proof. Idris Elba proclaimed the ceremony “diverse TV” when he went on stage to collect his award for best supporting actor for Beasts of No Nation. Jeffrey Tambor won best actor for his role in Transparent, Queen Latifah and Viola Davis were among the winners for their roles in Bessie and How to get away with murder respectively, and Uzo Aduba was crowned again as best supporting actress for her role as Crazy Eyes in the series Orange is the New Black, which also won best comedy. Orange is the New Black is a TV show that narrates the daily life in a women´s penitentiary, where people from very different backgrounds and with different nationalities and races have to live together. The show has been praised for touching on sensitive and usually hidden topics such as the transgender world thanks to the role of Laverne Cox (Sophia Burset on the show), who is a transgender in real life. Laura Prepon, from this same comedy, claimed that diversity is necessary in the industry and said regarding the SAG awards: “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity”.

According to The Economist, numbers suggest that the black population is not underrepresented in the awards; instead, the white population is overrepresented. Black actors get 9% of top roles and 10% of them get a nomination. The problem is actually behind the camera, where there are only 6% of black directors, and black women are almost non-existent. When it comes to Hispanic and Asian actors in top roles, the problem is much bigger. Some point out that the problem is not the nominations, but the lack of training and opportunities for minorities in the film industry. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science president and African-American, is trying to change the situation. She announced a five-year plan to expand executive´s thinking when hiring new talent.
If discrimination occurs in such a high profile profession and among highly rated film stars, it must be much worse among the poor. Club de Madrid and the Shared Societies Project applaud that events and professions of such magnitude are conscious of the importance of diversity, and invites the film industry to a self-critique and evaluation of the way the industry works. Although change will take time to happen, the most important thing, as mentioned by Lea Delaria, is that at least we are having this conversation and raising concerns.

Muslim World Holds Conference Affirming Rights of Non-Muslims

muslims article

Photo: Shahed Amanullah

On January 25-27, hundreds of political and religious leaders from the Muslim world and beyond met in Marrakech to discuss and affirm the rights of non-Muslims in their countries. The conference, titled Religious Minorities in Muslim Countries: The Legal Framework and Call for Action, is believed to be the first of its kind since the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, outlined the rights of non-Muslims in the Charter of Medina – over 1,400 years ago. Leaders from throughout the Islamic world were invited, as well as leaders from several other religions, such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C and Rabbi Burt Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

As stated in The Washington Post, the main goal of the conference is to reject the teachings of radical groups like Islamic State from within the traditions of Islam, establishing a religious argument (instead of a purely secular one) in favor of tolerance and diversity. The idea is to remind Muslims and the world in general how seriously religious tolerance is affirmed in Muhammad´s teachings – for example, Article 17 of the Charter of Medina: No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. “We want to counter the idea that Muslims and non-Muslims can’t live together,” explains Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a conference participant and co-founder of Zaytuna College. “This is not who we are or who we want to be.” It is also hoped that the conference will serve as a foundation for Muslims around the world in creating constitutions, school curricula, and other official documents.

The Club de Madrid applauds the work of the conference and believes it is essential in creating truly inclusive, free communities. As outlined in the Shared Societies Commitments*, promote understanding and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity is an essential feature of a Shared Society. This conference, the first in more than a millennium, is an encouraging sign towards solving the needless conflict between religions among the world.

*Commitment IX: www.clubmadrid.org/en/ssp/commitments_and_approaches_br_for_shared_societies

 

Minority Voices

MinorityVoices

The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life.

More specifically, the Minority Voices Programme aims to increase the inclusion of the perspectives and opinions of the minorities and the indigenous population in the EU media and more specifically in development issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, the Minority Voices Programme promotes the awareness among development policy-makers of the various needs of minority and indigenous communities, by helping them to advocate for their own rights at a national, regional and international level.

The dedicated webpage of the organization, minorityvoices.org, is a place where both journalists and minority activists are encouraged to participate and to interact with each other. Through this page the members of minorities and indigenous communities, as well as their advocates, can upload their stories on a variety of media forms (video footage, audio, pictures, reports) and advocate for many issues, but most importantly through this page they can engage with the EU-based media, since the journalists are given the possibility to research and download all the available material (under creative commons licenses).

One very important issue that came to light thanks to the the Minority Voices Programme is the extinction of various indigenous languages in Nepal, an issue that Members of the Club de Madrid heard about first hand during a recent mission to the country. There is a gradual loss of the languages such as Kisan, Rai, Kusunda and Baram; these languages are getting replaced by the official language of Nepal, Nepali, contributing to the deterioration of the cultural heritage of various communities.

With as many as 123 dialects and languages spoken in Nepal, the Minority Voices Programme advocates for their protection and their instruction in local schools. A great majority of Nepalese children that come from different indigenous communities and linguistic minority groups encounter learning problems and perform poorly or even choose to leave school because the State has failed to recognize and cater for their diverse linguistic needs. A change in the educational system and the incorporation of all the languages of Nepal in administration and legal issues has been promoted through the Minority Voices Programme and to its ability to connect indigenous groups with the media.

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