(Washington D.C. -- September 9, 2011) Local, regional and international leaders from across the Americas will gather on September 16th and 21st in two cities in Colombia as part of the "Conference on the Right to Education & Minorities." At the Conference, the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, and the University of Virginia School of Law International Human Rights Clinic will launch their report on structural discrimination facing minorities, titled "Right to Education of Afro-descendants and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas."
"Education is an essential way to break the cycle of poverty, exclusion, marginalization and discrimination," said Marselha Gonçalves Margerin, Advocacy Director at RFK Center. "This conference brings together policymakers and advocates, and affected community leaders to explore ways to break these cycles of discrimination and begin to tackle a widespread problem afflicting communities across the region."
NOMADESC, Cornell Clinic, and the RFK Center will convene state, region and international policy makers, human rights officials and grassroots leaders to examine and discuss these issues hosted by the Universidad de Valle in Cali, Colombia on September 16th and the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia on September 21st (see details below). To RSVP for either event, please email
Panel presentations will highlight the legal, social, and cultural barriers faced by minority populations in accessing education in the Americas profiled in the report and the international obligations to fulfill the right to education. Participants will also offer recommendations for overcoming the challenges facing minorities in education.
Participants will include U.N. Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Gay McDougall, Executive Secretary, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Santiago Canton, Representative of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Colombia, Christian Salazar, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureates from Colombia and Dominican Republic, Berenice Celeyta Alayón and Sonia Pierre.
The Report was presented at a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in March 2008. General findings demonstrated that while most states in the Americas have constitutions and laws which protect the right to education without discrimination, wide gaps remain between these laws and the reality on the ground. Researchers in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Colombia found most minorities do not fully enjoy the right to education. The report’s findings show minorities tend to have lower literacy rates, higher drop out rates and lower school attendance than non-minority populations across the region.
"Minorities often face systematic discrimination which creates blockages to their full enjoyment of their rights, including their right to education. To fully protect the right to education for those who have been subjected to historical systematic discrimination, we must go beyond issues of physical or economic accessibility to focus on the ultimate goal of equal access to quality education and to equal achievement outcomes," said UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues Gay McDougall.
Event: "Conference on the Right to Education & Minorities"
Day 1: September 16, 2009 -- 10:00am-6:00pm Universidad del Valle, Cali Colombia Auditorium 3, Univalle Mendez Campus
Day 2: September 21, 200 -- 5:00pm-8:00pm Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia Edificio Santo Domingo, Salon SD 806
Case Study: Dominican Republic English | Español
Case Study: Guatemala English | Español