Mr. Chairperson I am grateful to be given the opportunity to draw the attention of the Working Group on the existing conditions of protection and guarantee of the rights of minorities in South Asia minority rights. You may kindly remember that in 2001 I had drawn the attention of the Working Group to my detailed study on the framework of autonomy now existing in South Asia. I shall now speak very briefly on the context of the principles which my colleague Cecilia Thompson from the International Centre for Ethnic Studies will be discussing soon. They are important as they summarize the experiences of the framework of the protection of minorities existing in one of the most populous regions of the world. The need for evolving a set of principles based on these regional experiences which may enrich contrary to what many of us may think here, global standards also. I do not think we should set a heirarchical relationship between our local experiences and the global standards based on these global experiences. I would also like to inform you that these set of principles have evolved or we have been able to draw them up on the basis of the last three years work. We have been able to achieve a kind of annotated directory of minority organizations, minority newspapers in South Asia. We have made detailed studies particularly minority rights institutions in the region. We have been able to secure from many notable jurists in the region, as well as human rights thinkers and activists, comments on the draft paper. Therefore it in a way represents at least one important segment of the collective experiences of such a significant region as South Asia.
Now in drawing the attention of the Working Group to the background of the putting together of these principles, I shall put these before you very briefly. First in South Asia Constitutions have included some provisions relating to the protection of minorities and guarantee the cultural and social diversity in the respective polities and societies. But the ways in which these polities function show that Constitutions have not always reflected the reality, due to the way they also function - the majoritarian basis of these respective polities, the