The Internationalization of Minority Rights
32 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2008 Last revised: 12 Dec 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2008
Debates concerning integration and accommodation are a familiar feature of the domestic political life of many countries. But these debates increasingly have an international dimension as well. International organizations can strongly influence the way state-minority relations are framed and resolved, endorsing some models of accommodation while discouraging others. This paper attempts to explore which models of state-minority relations and, hence, which types of minority rights, have been endorsed by international organizations, for which types of groups, and in which contexts. These are not simple questions to answer. Many international organizations have struggled with this issue for the past fifteen years without any clear resolution, and their current policies and practices are full of ambiguities and inconsistencies. The goal of this paper is to bring out some of these complexities, focusing particularly on how the rights of indigenous peoples have been elaborated at the United Nations, and the way in which the rights of national minorities have been discussed within European organizations. Very different assumptions and principles underlie the two cases, and each raises its own moral and political dilemmas.
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