Human Rights Council
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
Report of the independent expert on minority issues, Gay
Effective participation in political life and decision-making
48. The effective and meaningful participation of minorities in the political arena can be a pivotal element in avoiding violent conflict. While members of minorities have the right o participate in decision-making processes, particularly those that affect them, minorities re greatly underrepresented in the political processes and governing institutions of most ountries for a variety of reasons. They may be intentionally restricted from participation or
inadvertently disadvantaged by laws or policies, or there may be a lack of political will to ismantle structural barriers to the full and equal participation of minorities.
49. States have significant leeway to decide, in consultation with minority communities, he modalities by which political participation can be achieved. Those measures may nclude the devolution of certain powers by means of a federal or autonomy arrangement; lectoral systems based on proportional representation; a system of reserved seats for inorities in parliament; or the facilitated participation in the electoral process of political arties representing the interests of minorities. Most importantly, the modality for political nclusion must afford minorities genuine influence. Tokenism or State interference in the rocess of identifying political representatives, for example, may lead to deeper rustrations. Further, full respect for freedoms of expression and assembly is critical.
50. The most appropriate system will depend on the specificities of the situation, ncluding how populous the communities are, whether they are geographically dispersed or oncentrated, the aspirations of the minority groups and how well integrated they are into he broader society. The flexibility of the minority rights framework makes it well suited to he compromises necessary in processes of negotiating solutions, diffusing tensions and voiding violent conflicts. In November 2009, the second session of the Forum on Minority ssues focused on the issue of minorities and effective political participation and produced a et of practical recommendations for States and other actors (A/HRC/13/25, para. 5).
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