Fernand de Varennes was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues by the Human Rights Council and assumed his functions on 1 August 2017. He is the Dean of the Faculté de droit at the Université de Moncton in Canada and Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. His work and commitment focuses on the human rights of minorities, as well as the prevention of ethnic conflicts, the rights of migrants, the relationship between ethnicity, human rights and democracies, and the use of federalism and other forms of autonomy arrangements to balance competing cultural interests. He has written reports for and spoken in numerous forums on these issues including before UN committees in Geneva, the European Parliament in Brussels, and with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.
The duties of his mandate include:
(a) To promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, including through consultations with Governments, taking into account existing international standards and national legislation concerning minorities;
(b) To examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective realization of the rights of persons belonging to minorities;
(c) To identify best practices and possibilities for technical cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner, at the request of Governments;
(d) To apply a gender perspective in his/her work;
(e) To cooperate and coordinate closely, while avoiding duplication, with existing relevant United Nations bodies, mandates and mechanisms and with regional organizations;
(f) To take into account the views of and cooperate closely with nongovernmental organizations on matters pertaining to his/her mandate;
(g) To guide the work of the Forum on Minority Issues, prepare its annual meetings, to report on its thematic recommendations and to make recommendations for future thematic subjects, as decided by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 19/23;
(h) To submit an annual report on his/her activities to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, including recommendations for effective strategies for the better implementation of the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.