Secretary General’s Diary – Tuesday

The day has been quite a marathon; eight hours of non-stop political discussion.  We have been helped by very able moderators, heard some quite exceptional presentations and been part of a very lively debate.  In short, it has been hugely interesting and helpful.

The objective has been to identify what measures we can take to enhance effective participation.  Are reserved seats an effective way of ensuring representation? Can such representation be effective?  The answer to the first question is a strong affirmative, while the answer to the second is less clear.  Reserved seats can be a good start, but often fall far short of expectations.

Are identity-based political parties a better alternative to “mainstream” political parties?  In many instances the answer to that question is a clear yes.  Most of the statements from the floor recognize that “mainstream” parties by and large are doing a very poor job at addressing issues relevant to minorities and indigenous peoples.

Do dedicated parliamentary committees provide a useful avenue to promote the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples?  There are numerous examples where that is the case; there are also potential drawbacks.  Carrying on business as usual is not the way forward.  Each parliament can make much better use of its rules and procedures to address these issues in its daily work.

We conclude with a very interesting debate around the theme of representation at the local or sub-national level.  Are minorities and indigenous peoples’ issues dealt with more effectively at this level?  Apparently they are.  The closer understanding and more direct contact make for more effective participation.

With nightfall comes an opportunity to relax in good company, enjoy the Mexican cuisine and Chiapas culture.  We are taken to a restaurant overlooking the city and spend the final hours of the day enjoying the good company and fascinating conversation of our hosts and participants from near and far.

Anders B. Johnsson

Secretary General

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