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.
New titlesAs we are right in the middle of moving to a new library system, it is not yet possible to automatically collect new titles for this Research Guide.
- Arp, B., International Norms and Standards for the Protection of National Minorities: Bilateral and Multilateral Texts with Commentary, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2008.
- Hofmann, R. (et al.)(eds.), Rahmenübereinkommen zum Schutz Nationaler Minderheiten, Handkommentar, Baden-Baden, Nomos, 2015.
- Hofmann, R. (et al.) (eds.), The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities : A Commentary, Leiden, Brill, 2018.
- Khan, K.A., Minorities and International Law, New Delhi, Mittal Publications, 2016.
- Khan, B.U. and M.M.Rahman, Protection of Minorities: Regimes, Norms and Issues in South Asia, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.
- Malloy, T.H. and U. Caruso (eds)., Minorities, Their Rights, and the Monitoring of the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: Essays in Honour of Rainer Hofmann, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2013.
- Wei, H.H., A Dialogical Concept of Minority Rights, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.
- Weller, M. (ed.), Universal Minority Rights: a Commentary on the Jurisprudence of International Courts and Treaty Bodies, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007.
- Weller, M. (ed.), The Rights of Minorities in Europe: a Commentary on the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Agarin, T., and K. Cordell, Minority Rights and Minority Protection in Europe, London, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
- Caruso, U., and R. Hofmann (eds.), The United Nations Declaration on Minorities : An Academic Account on the Occasion of its 20th Anniversary (1992-2012), Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.
- McDougall, G., The First United Nations Mandate on Minority Issues, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.
- Merino, N. (ed.), Minorities and the Law, Greenhaven Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.
- Schliemann Radbruch, C., Das Völkerrechtliche Institut der Autonomie Innerstaatlicher Gruppen, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2017.
- Socha, P., Definitionen und Anerkennung Substaatlicher Gruppen im Völkerrecht: Eine Untersuchung der Rechtlichen Anwendung völkerrechtlicher Konstruktionen Substaatlicher Kollektiver Identitäten und aktueller Entwicklungen im Intergovernmental Committee der WIPO, Göttingen, Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2017.
- Swepston, L., The Foundations of Modern International Law on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples : The Preparatory Documents of The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, and Its Development Through Supervision, Leiden, Brill, 2015.
- Thürer, D., International Protection of Minorities : Challenges in Practice and Doctrine, Zurich, Schulthess, 2014.
- Watson, I., Indigenous Peoples as Subjects of International Law, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2018.
Articles, working papers, and reports
- Alfredsson, G., "Minority Rights and the UN", in U. Caruso and R. Hofmann (eds.), The United Nations Declaration on Minorities : An Academic Account on the Occasion of its 20th Anniversary (1992-2012), Leiden/Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2015. pp. 19-45.
- Barten, U., "What’s In a Name? Peoples, Minorities, Indigenous Peoples, Tribal Groups and Nations", JEMIE: Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe, 14 (2015), No. 1, pp. 1-25.
- Dessalegn, B., "Comment: The Normative Framework of the African Human Rights Regime on the Rights of Minorities", Mizan Law Review, 8 (2014), No.2.
- Ducoulombier, P., "The Protection of Sexual Minorities in European Law", in F. Ippolito and S. Iglesias Sánchez, Protecting Vulnerable Groups : The European Human Rights Framework, Oxford, Hart Publishing, pp. 201-223.
- Eide, A., "United Nations Standard-setting Regarding Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples", Europa Ethnica, 71 (2014), No. 3/4, pp. 51-61.
- Ferrari, H., Partnership For All? Impact of Eastern Partnership on Minorities, Minority Rights Group International, 9 June 2014.The Institute for International Law and Human Rights, Minority Rights Group International, No Peace Without Justice and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Between the Millstones: Iraq's Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul, 27 February 2015.
- Girmay, A., "Constitutional Perils of Ethiopia‘s Ethnic Federalism: Insights from Self-Determination Principle in Case of 'Kunama‘ Ethnic Minority," International Journal of Political Science and Development, 3(2015), No. 4, pp. 166-173, april 2015.
- Kuwali, D and G. Alfredsson, "The Responsibility to Protect Minorities: The Question of Protection by Kin-States", Europa Ethnica, 71 (2014), No. 3/4, pp. 62-68.
- Mihlar, F., 'Everything Has Shattered’ – Rising Levels of Violence Against Shi’a in Pakistan, Minority Rights Group International, 11 June 2014.
- Nyambura, C., Looma Ooyaan - No One Cries for Them: The Situation Facing Somalia's Minority Women, Minority Rights Group International and IIDA, 30 January 2015.
- Pentikaïnen, M., "Social Integration of “Old” and “New” Minorities in Europe in Views of International Expert Bodies Relying on Human Rights: Contextual Balancing and Tailoring", JEMIE: Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe, 14 (2015), No. 1, pp. 26-47.
- Peroni, L., Minorities before the European Court of Human Rights : Democratic Pluralism unfolded, in J. Boulden and W. Kymlicka (eds.), International Approaches to Governing Ethnic Diversity, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 25-50.
- Rajji, R. el, The Leaves of One Tree: Religious Minorities in Lebanon, Minority Rights Group International, 10 December 2014.
- Raoof, A., Still Dispossessed: The Battle of the Chagos Islanders to Return to Their Homeland, Minority Rights Group International, 26 March 2014.Xanthaki, A., "Indigenous Rights at the United Nations: Their Impact on International Human Rights Standards", Europa Ethnica, 71 (2014), No. 3/4, pp. 69-77.
- Rehman, J., "Adjudicating on the Rights of Sexual Minorities in the Muslim World", in J.A. Green and C.P.M. Waters (eds.), Adjudicating International Human Rights : Essays in Honour of Sandy Ghandhi, Leiden/Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2015, pp. 119-147.
- Scantamburlo, M. and G. Pallaver, Between Secession and “Full Autonomy”: Party Competition over Self-Determination in South Tyrol, EvoNat Research Brief, No. 3, November 2015.
- Varennes, F. De, "R2P and the Protection of Minorities", in P. Hilpold (ed.), Responsibility To Protect : A New Paradigm of International Law?, Leiden/Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2015, pp. 274-292.
- Vezbergaite, I., Self-Determination of the Kurdish People: Undermining the Unity of the «Turkish Nation»?, IFF, Working Paper Online, No. 9, July 2015.
- Wang Linzhu, "The Identification of Minorities in China", Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal, 16 (2015), No. 2, pp. 1-21.
- Exploring the Legal Framework for Minorities in the Criminal Justice System - An IACHR perspective, december 2015.
Documents relevant to minority protection
- Capotorti, F., Study on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, U.N. Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/384/Rev.1.
- UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religous and Linguistic Minorities
Council of Europe
- Council of Europe Framework Convention For the Protection of National Minorities
- Council of Europe Thematic Compilation of Commentaries of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention
- Council of Europe Thematic Commentaries of the Advisory Committee
- European Charter of Local Self-Government 1985 (CoE)
- European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages 1992 (CoE)
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. (CoE) The relevant article for minorities is article 14, regarding non-discrimination;, technically, this article must be claimed together with one of the other articles of the Convention
- The European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation (1980) (CoE) Monitored by the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities in Europe, it has also been important for minority rights protection, see Malloy.
- Venice Commission, Report on the Preferential Treatment of National Minorities by their Kin-State, 2001.
- Venice Commission, Report on Non-Citizens and Minority Rights, 2006
- Venice Commission, Report on Dual Voting for Persons Belonging to National Minorities, 2008
- The Copenhagen 'Criteria' 1993. Accession conditions for applicant states.
- The Stability Pact 1995. Most notably, it was designed to offer a framework in which Central and Eastern European countries might attempt to resolve border disputes, address problems of minorities and develop relations with Russia in a post-Soviet era.
- The Amsterdam Treaty 1997 (article 13) and the Equality Directives (Race Directive or Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 and the Equal Employment or Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000)
- The Charter of Fundamental Rights 2000 (article 21; EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights 2002-2005)
- The Reformed Lisbon Treaty 2009 (article 2)
- The Copenhagen Document 1990 (CSCE, now OSCE)). Included for the first time in European history very specific and directional provisions on the protection of national minorities. Not legally binding.
- The High Commissioner on National Minorities (OSCE) 1992. Recommendations and/or guidelines:
- The Oslo Recommendations Regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities & Explanatory Note, 1998.
- The Lund Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Public Life & Explanatory Note, 1999.
- The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter-State Relations, 2008.
- The Ljubljana Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies, 2012.
Periodicals, serial publications
- Bedrohte Völker 241406749
- Ethnies (catalogue)
- Ethnopolitics (no subscription, direct link Taylor & Francis)
- Europa Ethnica (catalogue)
- Europäisches Journal für Minderheitenfragen
- European Autonomy and Diversity Papers (e-journal)
- European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) Working Paper
- European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) Reports
- European Yearbook of Minority Issues
- International Annual Report (State of the World's Minorities)
- International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
- JEMIE : Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe
- Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs
- Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe
- Der Minderheitenschutz im Östlichen Europa
- Minorités linguistiques et société / Linguistic Minorities and Society (Canada)
- Pogrom : Zeitschrift für bedrohte Völker
- Scholar : St. Mary's Law Review on Minority Issues
Mbaku, J.M., Protecting Minority Rights in African Countries : a Constitutional Political Economy Approach, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
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.
Pentassuglia, G., (ed.), Ethno-Cultural Diversity and Human Rights : Challenges and Critiques, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
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.
Hofmann, R. (et al.) (eds.), The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities : A Commentary, Leiden, Brill, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
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.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Minorities, International Protection, by Kristin Henrard.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Minority Protection System between World War I and World War II, by Anna Meijknecht.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Minorities, European Protection, by Rainer Hofmann.
- Minority Rights Information System (MIRIS) Database. The MIRIS database includes the most important legal texts relating to minority rights by concentrating upon relevant national legislation and case-law.
- World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. This online directory of minorities and indigenous peoples grew out of Minority Rights Group’s encyclopaedic World Directory of Minorities, first published in 1990 and updated and expanded in 1997. This World Directory has been restructured into database format, updated and expanded, and the entire text is now available free of charge for the use of all those throughout the world with an interest in any aspect of minorities and indigenous peoples, their rights, their historical, political or geographical context.
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.Read more
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.Read more
“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.Read more
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.Read more
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 .There are many kinds of islamic veils, such as the niqab, burqa, chador, and khimar (see picture below). The […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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  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.Read more
- Eurominority.eu. The website of Stateless Nations and minority peoples in Europe.
- European Centre for Minority Issues
- Institute for Minority Rights
- International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations
- Minority Map and Timeline of Europe
- Minorities at Risk Project. The Minorities at Risk (MAR) Project is a university-based research project that monitors and analyzes the status and conflicts of politically-active communal groups in all countries with a current population of at least 500,000. The project is designed to provide information in a standardized format that aids comparative research and contributes to the understanding of conflicts involving relevant groups. Selected project materials on more than 284 groups (the MAR database and codebook as well as detailed historical chronologies) are available through this site for researchers, public officials, journalists, students, activists, and others interested in the topic.
- Minority Rights Group International
- MIRIS - Minority Rights Information System
- OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
- OHCHR - Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
- OCHCR - Minorities
- OCHCR - United Nations Guide for Minorities
- Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
- World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
More Research guides on Individuals and Groups
- High Court judgment rules West Sahara trade dispute should go to European Court of Justice, 20-10-2015