Nermien Riad speaks at the 30th anniversary of UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Minorities

FAIRFAX, VA, September 24, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — Egyptian Copts made their voices heard this week at the United Nations’ General Assembly high-level meeting on minority rights.

The meeting commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious, and Linguistic Minorities at the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Civil society representatives were invited to provide context on the state of minority groups’ rights from all over the world.

Coptic-American Nermien Riad spoke at the General Assembly on the importance of minorities’ engagement in their country’s progress, child development and education, and promoting peaceful coexistence.

Riad is the Founder and Executive Director of Coptic Orphans, which has held consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 2020.

Copts are an indigenous people of Egypt who can trace their origins to the Pharaohs. As the largest Christian group in the Middle-East, Coptic people have suffered persecution for millennia at the hands of emperors and caliphs. Today, Copts comprise an estimated 10-15% of Egypt’s population, and millions of Copts have immigrated to countries outside Egypt in the past several decades.

In her speech, Riad highlighted a Coptic Orphans program that pairs up Christian and Muslim girls through a mentorship model which builds bridges and encourages harmony between the two communities.

“These girls weren’t the only ones transformed,” Riad said at the high-level meeting. “Parents and villagers who participated in sectarian clashes are, today, the biggest supporters of coexistence. Families who were ignorant of basic emotional intelligence have learned the importance of a healthy expression of love. By changing the lives of these young women, we have helped change society.”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration in 1992 and it is “the most important UN instrument devoted to minority rights,” according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner, as it “provides guidance and key standards ranging from non-discrimination to effective participation of minorities in decision-making in all areas of everyday life.”

Coptic Orphans is an award-winning international Christian development organization that unlocks the God-given potential of vulnerable children in Egypt, and so equips them to break the cycle of poverty and become change-makers in their communities. Coptic Orphans works through grassroots partners and volunteer networks to strengthen local communities for sustainable impact. Since 1988, Coptic Orphans has transformed the lives of over 75,000 children in Egypt. Headquartered in Washington DC, Coptic Orphans has expanded to offices in Egypt, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

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