A UN independent expert on minority issues on Thursday urged [press release; UN News Centre report] the international community and African States to strengthen protection for minority groups throughout Africa. Independent Expert Rita Izsak explained that the African Commission needs to implement a systematic solution for ensuring that the concerns of minorities across Africa are addressed. Izsak urged governments to act and protect the most vulnerable segments of the population in Africa. Izsak discussed her work as the head of the UN Forum on Minority Issues and also encouraged non governmental organizations (NGOs) to take part in future meetings and forums. Izsak stated that linguistic and religious minorities are entitled to protection under the UN Declaration on Minorities. The expert stated that "The ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity must be recognized as enriching the society and its historical heritage and be protected and promoted to the full extent possible." She explained that protecting the rights of minorities will reduce tension in the region and promote stability.
In January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon told an African Union summit that the leaders in Africa must increase efforts [JURIST report] to lower poverty levels, end cycles of violence and accelerate development. Ban noted that while many countries have made strides to achieve the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he expressed concern about the millions of Africans living in poverty and urged African leaders to reach the MDGs before the 2015 deadline. Regarding the ongoing crisis [JURIST report] in Mali [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], Ban said the international community had a "moral imperative" to assist civilians in need. To obtain results, Ban said Africa needed resources for high-impact interventions; innovative technologies and integrated services; increased investments in women and girls; advance all the MDGs; improve education; address hunger; and overcome poverty.