Constitutional Recognition of Ethnic and Linguistic Minority Rights in Africa: The Case of Uganda and Zimbabwe

In 2020, I served as a minority rights consultant in Uganda with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). During that period, I had extensive interactions with various ethnic and linguistic minorities (indigenous minority groups).

Today (11 April 2021), I was pleased to receive some good news from a representative of one of the ethnic minority groups, the Maragoli, on their imminent constitutional recognition.

The case of the Maragoli, strikes resonance with the case of the Kunda ethnic and linguistic minority group of southern Africa that I belong to.

One key human rights issue that the Maragoli are struggling with, which also speaks to I and the Kunda people of Zimbabwe is access to national identity documents and citizenship. We, the Kunda people of Zimbabwe, are currently engaging the government of Zimbabwe, through a constitutional amendment process to have our language, chiKunda, recognised as an official language. Public consultations led by the parliament of Zimbabwe are currently ongoing.

The process of amending the constitution is a complex and long process. What I learned in Uganda is that, outside legal (constitutional) processes there are other innovative ways to protect and promote minority rights as we advocate for bigger legal reforms. In Uganda, they are in the process of drafting a National Affirmative Action Plan (NAAP) on ethnic and linguistic minority rights. Once enacted, the NAAP will be a policy document that can be used to advance ethnic and linguistic minority rights.

To read more about the case of Maragoli ethnic minority group of Uganda and their constitutional recognition, please follow the URL link below:

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Hi Paul, this is a great news and good news to every human right activists globally.

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