Protecting Minority Rights: A Practical Guide to Developing Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation

On 6 December 2022, the Equal Rights Trust  and the United Nations Human Rights Office launched Protecting Minority Rights: A Comprehensive Guide to Developing Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation.

The result of a three-year long collaborative research and consultation initiative, the Practical Guide is the first authoritative, definitive, comprehensive guidance from the United Nations on states’ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to non-discrimination.

The Guide sets out the core content of the rights to equality and non-discrimination, as derived from international human rights instruments and their interpretation by UN and regional human rights mechanisms and provides practical guidance to States on the measures needed to ensure that their legal frameworks are consistent with the requirements of international law. It synthesises and harmonises existing international legal standards, to provide clear and accessible guidance on the necessary scope, structure and content of comprehensive anti-discrimination laws – laws which provide the foundation for creating societies where all are equal in dignity and rights and where no-one is left behind. In addition, the publication provides concrete country-based practices and practical guidance.

This Guide provides a roadmap to developing comprehensive and effective equality laws for anyone involved in the legislative process. In so doing, it responds to the needs and demands of the Trust’s partner equality activists from across the globe. It fills a long-standing gap for clear, unequivocal and comprehensive guidance for governments. parliaments, national human rights institutions and equality activists in the essential elements of anti-discrimination law, if it is to provide comprehensive and effective protection.

The Guide was launched by  the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris at the University of Peace in Costa Rica and formed part of Human Rights Week, The launch was accompanied by a video delivered by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, which called on States to “renew and reinforce their commitments to the equal enjoyment of human rights through enacting enforcing and implementing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.” On 7 December 2022, an unprecedented group of 32 UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders issued a joint-statement which urged all UN member States to “prioritise enacting, enforcing and implementing anti-discrimination legislation” to give effect to their international human rights law obligations. The statement calls on States to take the publication of the Guide “as a catalyst to action”  and to use its contents as “practical tools for the development and reform of their legal frameworks on equality and non-discrimination.”

The Guide is currently available in ArabicEnglishJapanese (Nihongo), Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Versions in other languages, including in all UN languages, will be made available in the first half of 2024. An easy-to-read version is also under preparation.