United Nations Conference on National Minorities
Geneva, May 1999
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
From May 25 - 31, 1999 the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC) attended a conference sponsored by the United Nations Commission On Human Rights, Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Fifth Working Group Session. The conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland, the European headquarters of the United Nations. In addition to the two external delegates of the MHRMC, Spiro Kotsopoulos and Susan Trchaevski, one internal delegate, Father Nikodim Tsarknias, also attended the conference.
Participants at the conference included government delegations from over thirty countries, as well as over fifty Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) such as the MHRMC. The conference also had a special guest for one of the afternoon sessions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Robinson. Ms. Robinson gave an oral presentation and responded to questions from the Working Group. The purpose of the conference is to investigate and promote a better understanding between States and minority groups according to the United Nations Declaration on Minority Rights.
The MHRMC was able to voice its concerns, called an intervention, for Macedonian minorities in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania, on two separate occasions for all of the governmental and NGO representatives for the Working Group. Our comments were well received and entered into the official record of the conference. We received congratulations and very positive comments from several of the attending organizations.
In addition to private meetings with representatives of the governmental delegations, we also had numerous meetings with other NGO’s in between sessions, including: Watch Tower, a religious organization which has had great success against Greece at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg; the Turkish Association of Graduate Students of Western Thrace; the Christian Solidarity Worldwide Association, who was particularly interested in speaking with Father Tsarknias; a representative of the European Union; and Dr. Jane Cowan, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, England, who is a specialist on the Balkans.
The contacts made at this and other similar conferences are kept up to date on the latest development with regards to the Macedonian minorities by the MHRMC. By attending such conferences and maintaining contact with the governmental and NGO representatives, as well as interested individuals, the MHRMC hopes to further the struggle for attainment of fundamental human and national rights for Macedonians. If anyone would like more information, please contact the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada at our 24 hour message centre (416) 202-8866, fax (416) 412-3385, e-mail at email@example.com, or visit our web site at www.mhrmc.on.ca.