Minorities which are exploited or discriminated against by a dominant group include racial, religious, linguistic and ideological minorities, and vulnerable groups in the social strata, such as women, children, the aged, the disabled, the mentally retarded or deranged, the physically handicapped, and the socially handicapped (in the sense of deprivation in family upbringing, education, nutrition, or housing). Such minorities are usually inadequately protected under the law and may be outcasts in society.
Ethnic and cultural minorities existing outside the mainstream of activity and development are found in rich and poor countries alike. Relative poverty, malnutrition, high levels of mortality, ill health, limited educational opportunity, inadequate housing and inferior legal, social and cultural status characterize these groups. International minorities and vulnerable small states may also be exploited and inadequately protected.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.