United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Rights of Minorities
Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
At the outset, I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this important high-level event to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. Despite the progress made in advancing the rights of minority groups following the adoption of the Declaration three (3) decades ago, challenges persist. We solidarize with the people belonging to minority groups and remain concerned about the disproportionate suffering they are subjected to in conflict situations including their vulnerability to forced displacements, obstacles to education and other attendant effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s event, therefore, provides us with a unique opportunity to assess the implementation of the Declaration, identify examples of good practices and explore ways to address the challenges facing minority groups.
At the national level, it is important to underscore the point that Ghana’s 1992 Constitution guarantees fundamental human rights to all its citizens. Article 17 guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status. The Government of Ghana remains committed to advancing these fundamental rights and to fulfilling her obligations under international human rights law in a manner that ensures that minority rights are not marginalized. Before concluding my remarks, I wish to highlight the following points which are instrumental in dealing with the issue confronting minority groups:
First, we believe that even though the Declaration was adopted three decades ago, it remains relevant in addressing contemporary challenges facing minority groups. It is, therefore, important for Member States to make good their commitment to its implementation.
Second, as we move towards a post COVID-19 future, it is important for States to deliberately put in place measures that would enhance emergency aids, boost data collection for monitoring and tracking of disparities on minority groups, intensify outreach, including in minority languages and sign languages on how to prevent and address COVID-19 and other challenges, and on availability of services. This would help ensure that minority groups are not disadvantaged.
Third, the growing exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination against minorities require a more holistic and comprehensive approach in addressing the situation. We welcome the integration of employment, sustainable development and social protection into domestic polices, and the advancement of equal rights and opportunities for all in a manner that ensures that the interest of minority groups is served. Deliberate policies that create a conducive environment for minority groups to meaningfully participate in political activities and decision-making process is encouraged.
Fourth, equally important is the urgent need to empower minority women and girls to help ameliorate the various forms of abuses they are subjected to. This we believe can be addressed by urgently considering measures embedded in economic support and stimulus packages that reflect the needs of women who face multiple forms of discrimination. The introduction of interventions such as helplines, psychosocial support and online counselling is recommended.
We need to deploy technology to meaningfully address the challenges minorities face. Investing in media literacy and education aimed at advancing the rights of minority groups as well as adopting technology-based solutions such as SMS and other networks to expand social support, and to reach women in minority groups should be intensified.
Let me conclude by re-iterating Ghana’s commitment to the implementation of the Declaration. It is our conviction that unbridled political will by Member States at the national, regional and multilateral level is critical to sustainably advancing the rights of minority groups.
I thank you!