Minorities

Introduction

All States have one or more minority groups within their national territories, characterized by their own national, ethnic, linguistic or religious identity, which differs from that of the majority population.

A systematic approach of international protection of minority rights began after the First World War by the League of Nations. The minority protection system was meant to protect group rights of homogeneous populations within States, to further the idea of self-determination. After the Second World War the United Nations the focus was on universal rights of individuals, rather than on minorities. The end of the Cold War, and the many conflicts with ethnic dimensions marked the revival of the protection of minority rights. The result was the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities by the UN General Assembly in 1992.

The 21st Century faces the challenge to achieve a peaceful coexistence within the multicultural nations of the world.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for legal research on Minorities. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section.
Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law  and subject heading (keyword) Minorities are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

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Bibliography

Reference works

Relevant books

Articles, working papers, and reports

Documents relevant to minority protection

UN

Council of Europe

EU

OSCE

General

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

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Librarian's choice

  • Mbaku, J.M., Protecting Minority Rights in African Countries : a Constitutional Political Economy Approach, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018.

    Mbaku, J.M., Protecting Minority Rights in African Countries : a Constitutional Political Economy Approach

    In this enlightening book, John Mukum Mbaku analyses the main challenges of constitutional design and the construction of governance institutions in Africa today. He argues that the central issues are: providing each country with a constitutional order that is capable of successfully managing sectarian conflict and enhancing peaceful coexistence; protecting the rights of citizens - including those of minorities; minimizing the monopolization of political space by the majority (to the detriment of minorities); and, effectively preventing government impunity. Mbaku offers a comprehensive analysis of various approaches to the management of diversity, and shows how these approaches can inform Africa's struggle to promote peace and good governance. He explores in depth the existence of dysfunctional and anachronistic laws and institutions inherited from the colonial state, and the process through which laws and institutions are formulated or constructed, adopted, and amended. A close look at the constitutional experiences of the American Republic provides important lessons for constitutional design and constitutionalism in Africa. Additionally, comparative politics and comparative constitutional law also provide important lessons for the management of diversity in African countries. Mbaku recommends state reconstruction through constitutional design as a way for each African country to provide itself with laws and istitutions that reflect the realities of each country, including the necessary mechanisms and tools for the protection of the rights of minorities.

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  • Pentassuglia, G., (ed.), Ethno-Cultural Diversity and Human Rights : Challenges and Critiques, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2018.

    Pentassuglia, G., (ed.), Ethno-Cultural Diversity and Human Rights : Challenges and Critiques

    What is the role of ethno-cultural groups in human rights discourse? Under international human rights law, standards are unclear and ambivalent, while traditional analyses have often failed to elucidate and unpack the conceptual, legal, and policy complexities involved. In Ethno-Cultural Diversity and Human Rights, prominent experts chart new territory by addressing contested dimensions of the field. They include the impact of collective interests on rights discourse and nation-building, international law’s responses to group demands for decision-making authority, and concerns for immigration, intersectionality, and peacebuilding. Drawing from diverse scholarship in international law, legal and moral philosophy, and political science, this volume will be essential reading for scholars and practitioners of human rights, diversity, and conflict management.

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  • Hofmann, R. (et al.) (eds.), The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities : A Commentary, Leiden, Brill, 2018.

    Hofmann, R. (et al.) (eds.), The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities : A Commentary, Leiden, Brill, 2018.

    The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: A Commentary, edited by Rainer Hofmann, Tove H. Malloy and Detlev Rein, presents an updated article-by-article assessment of the monitoring of the Convention’s implementation. The Convention was opened for signature in 1995 and entered into force on 1 February 1998. Within a very short period of time, it was ratified by 39 Council of Europe member states, and it constitutes the first (and only) international treaty establishing legally binding obligations concerning the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. In this volume, the monitoring of the Convention is assessed by eminent experts in the field of minority protection. They survey the scope of application as interpreted by the Advisory Committee during the first four cycles of monitoring by analyzing its approach and offering their individual assessments of potential improvements. The volume thus updates and augments previous assessments.

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Database

Blogs

  • Fifty Years Legal Argument over the Chagos Archipelago

    Since the creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory, a remnant of the British Empire has been subject of international legal dispute. The two most prominent are the request for an advisory opinion – currently under deliberation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – and secondly the arbitral proceedings under the Law of the Sea Convention. These issues and certain domestic proceedings in the United Kingdom relating to the legal status of the Chagossian people, have been the subject of legal academic research and subsequent publications. A recent addition is titled: “Fifty years of the British Indian Ocean territory: legal perspectives.” This book, produced in response to the 50th anniversary of the British Indian Ocean Territory’s founding, also assesses the impact of the decisions taken in respect of the Territory against a wider background of decolonization while addressing important questions about the lawfulness of maintaining Overseas Territories in the post-colonial era.

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  • Roma in Europe

    Cor de Vos, former mayor of Nieuwegein, representative of the Netherlands in CAHROM, the Comittee of the Council of Europe for ROMA issues talks about the policies which are needed in Europe to address the living conditions of Roma. A very big effort of all authorities on European, national and local level is needed and should be directed at lifting the miserable conditions of the Roma people at the grassroots, first of all in Central and Eastern Europe, in order to prevent an even worse scenario of riot and violence.

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  • “People must be able to look one another in the eye”. Plans of the Dutch Government to ban face-covering clothing.

    The Dutch Government chose to ignore the advice of the Council of State concerning the ban on face-covering clothing. The Council of State, the advisory organ of the Government, heavily criticised the legislative proposal. First, the Council of State does not consider the complete ban as necessary and useful. Second, the Council of State is of the opinion that a ban on face covering clothing is an infringement of the freedom of religion.

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  • Roma Rights in the European Union.

    In July 2010, The French government decided to begin to expel Roma’s, mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, as many of them were living in France illegally. This decision caused much controversy within the Institutions of the EU. This blog will briefly discuss in what way EU institutions have responded to recent Roma issues and what can be done to improve the position of this marginalized community in Europe.

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  • The Islamic veil, secularism and freedom of religion

    “The burqa is a massive attack on the rights of women. It is a mobile prison”, Silvana Koch-Merin stated. Silvana, a German representative of the European Parliament, called for a ban on face-covering veils throughout Europe [1].There are many kinds of islamic veils, such as the niqab, burqa, chador, and khimar (see picture below). The […]

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  • Cultural Diversity

    On Monday the 17th of August 2009 the Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations of the Hague Academy of International Law started. The Centre takes place annually at the Academy and Library building of the Peace Palace. The purpose of the Centre is to bring together advanced young scholars of […]

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  • Australian Key Ruling on Indigenous Fishing Rights

    On Wednesday, 30 July, the Australian High Court in Canberra in a key ruling (Northern Territory of Australia v Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust [2008] HCA 29, judgement here) upheld a decision by the Federal Court earlier this year granting Aboriginal people rights of ownership over a large part of the Northern Territory’s (NT) coastline.

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See also

More Research guides on Individuals and Groups

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