Minorities in Mongolia have not seen any major developments in 2004–5. Overall, they continue to be treated in a rather benign way. Kazakhs, most of whom are Muslim and speak their own language, are the largest minority at about 4 per cent of the population and represent about 85 per cent of the population of the western province of Bayan-Olgiy. Their status in 2004–5 in Bayan-Olgiy, a province established during the former Socialist period, has continued, with the result that Kazakhs are not visibly subjected to discriminatory practices by authorities, are prominent in the administration of the province, and operate Islamic schools for their children. Religious minorities appear to be protected by the Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of religion. The government generally respects this in practice, although there were reports in 2004 of some bureaucratic delays and harassment in registration of certain groups.

There have been no legislative changes in 2004–5 on the use of minority languages. Though Article 8 of the Constitution in theory guarantees to 'national minorities' the right to primary education in their own language, the continued absence of specific legislation to apply this constitutional provision means that, in reality, minorities – with the exception of the Kazakhs – still cannot enjoy this right. This could be deemed to be discriminatory in relation to the treatment of some of the largest minorities in the country, such as the Chinese, who account for 2 per cent of the population, and Russians who also account for 2 per cent.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and government of Mongolia have collaborated on a number of initiatives that have reformed the administration of the country in the 1990s, the Programme for Governance and Economic Transition and the Management Development Programme, which appear to have had a beneficial impact for minorities in 2004–5. Though not sanctioned in legislation, the decentralization of public administration under these programmes has apparently led to a greater use of minority languages by local authorities, who now have more autonomy and responsibilities. Previously, the highly centralized Mongolian administration meant an almost exclusive use of the Mongolian (Khalka) language, to the exclusion of minority languages.

The issue of minorities in 2004–5 does not figure prominently in the work or activities of international organizations involved in Mongolia, such as the UNDP, with various official reports remaining largely silent on even the existence of these in the country. This may however be due to the overall relatively benign treatment of minorities in Mongolia.

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