digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















The term minority rights embodies two separate concepts: first, normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or sexual minorities, and second, collective rights accorded to minority groups. The term may also apply simply to individual rights of anyone who is not part of a majority decision.

Civil rights movements often seek to ensure that individual rights are not denied on the basis of membership in a minority group, such as global women's rights and global LGBT rights movements, or the various racial minority rights movements around the world (such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)).


The issue of minority rights was first raised in 1814, at the Congress of Vienna, which discussed the fate of German Jews and especially of the Poles who were once again partitioned up. The Congress expressed hope that Prussia, Russia, and Austria would grant tolerance and protection to their minorities, which ultimately they disregarded, engaging in organized discrimination. The Congress of Paris in 1856 paid special attention to the status of Jews and Christians in the Ottoman Empire. In Britain William E Gladstone made outrage regarding the massacres of Bulgarians by the Ottoman Empire a major campaign issue and demanded international attention. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 dealt with the status of Jews in Romania, especially, and also Serbia, and Bulgaria. On the whole these 19th century congresses failed to impose significant reforms. Russia was especially active in protecting Orthodox Christians, and Slavic peoples under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Persecution or discrimination against specific minorities was increasingly the subject of media attention, and the Jews began to organize to protest the pogroms in Russia. However there was little international outrage regarding other minorities, such as the blacks in the southern United States. No one paid much attention to the attacks on Armenians until it became large-scale genocide in 1915, and even then nothing was done.[1]

The first minority rights were proclaimed and enacted by the revolutionary Parliament of Hungary in July 1849.[2] Minority rights were codified in Austrian law in 1867.[3]

Minority rights at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919[edit]

For information about Minority rights at the Paris conference, see Minority Treaties.

At the Versailles Peace Conference the Supreme Council established 'The Committee on New States and for The Protection of Minorities'. All the new successor states were compelled to sign minority rights treaties as a precondition of diplomatic recognition. It was agreed that although the new States had been recognized, they had not been 'created' before the signatures of the final Peace Treaties. The issue of German and Polish rights was a point of dispute as Polish rights in Germany remained unprotected, in contrast to rights of German minority in Poland. As with most of the principals adopted by the League, the Minorities Treaties were a part of the Wilsonian idealist approach to international relations, and as with the League itself, the Minority Treaties were increasingly ignored by the respective governments, with the entire system mostly collapsing in the late 1930s. Despite the political failure they remained the basis of international law. After World War II the legal principles were incorporated in the UN Charter and a host of international human rights treaties.

International law[edit]

Minority rights, as applying to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples, are an integral part of international human rights law. Like children's rights, women's rights and refugee rights, minority rights are a legal framework designed to ensure that a specific group which is in a vulnerable, disadvantaged or marginalized position in society, is able to achieve equality and is protected from persecution. The first post-war international treaty to protect minorities, designed to protect them from the greatest threat to their existence, was the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Subsequent human rights standards that codify minority rights include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 27), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, two Council of Europe treaties (the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Copenhagen Document of 1990.

Minority rights cover protection of existence, protection from discrimination and persecution, protection and promotion of identity, and participation in political life. For the rights of LGBT people, The Yogyakarta Principles have been approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council and for the rights of persons with disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by United Nations General Assembly.

To protect minority rights, many countries have specific laws and/or commissions or ombudsman institutions (for example the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minorities Rights).[4]

While initially, the United Nations treated indigenous peoples as a sub-category of minorities, there is an expanding body of international law specifically devoted to them, in particular Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (adopted 14 September 2007).

In 2008 a declaration on LGBT rights was presented in the UN General Assembly, and in 2011 a LGBT rights resolution was passed in the United Nations Human Rights Council (See LGBT rights at the United Nations).

There are many political bodies which also feature minority group rights. This might be seen in affirmative action quotas, or in guaranteed minority representation in a consociational state.

National minorities in the law of the EC/EU[edit]

The direct role of the European Union (and also the law of the EU/EC) in the area of protection of national minorities is still very limited (likewise the general protection of human rights). The EU has relied on general international law and a European regional system of international law (based on the Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, etc.) and in a case of necessity accepted their norms. But the “de-economisation of European integration”, which started in the 1990s, is changing this situation. The political relevance of national minorities' protection is very high.

Now (2009), although protection of the national minorities has not become a generally accepted legally binding principle of the EU, in several legal acts issues of national minorities are mentioned. In external relations protection of national minorities became one of the main criteria for cooperation with the EU or accession.[5]

See also[edit]


  • Barzilai, G. 2003. Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Fink, Carole. 2006. Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 excerpt and text search
  • Henrard, K. 2000. Devising an Adequate System of Minority Protection: Individual Human Rights, Minority Rights, and the Right to Self-Determination Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers
  • Jackson Preece, J. 2005. Minority Rights: Between Diversity and Community Cambridge: Polity Press
  • Malloy, T.H. 2005. National Minority Rights in Europe Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Pentassuglia, G. 2002. Minorities in international law: an introductory study Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publications
  • Šmihula, D. 2008. "National Minorities in the Law of the EC/EU", Romanian Journal of European Affairs, Vol. 8 no. 3, pp. 2008, pp.51-81. online
  • Thornberry, P. 1991. International Law and the Rights of Minorities. Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Weller, M. (ed.) 2006. The Rights of Minorities in Europe: A Commentary on the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Weller, M., Denika Blacklock and Katherine Nobbs (eds.) 2008. The Protection of Minorities in the Wider Europe Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Carole Fink, Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 (2006) ch 1-2
  2. ^ Laszlo Peter, Martyn C. Rady, Peter A. Sherwood: Lajos Kossuth sas word ...:papers delivered on the occasion of the bicentenary of Kossuth's birth (page 101)
  3. ^ Staatsgrundgesetz vom 21. Dezember 1867 (R.G.Bl. 142/1867), über die allgemeinen Rechte der Staatsbürger für die im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder — see Article 19 (German)
  4. ^ Homepage of the Parliamentary Commissioner
  5. ^ Daniel Šmihula (2008). National Minorities in the Law of the EC/EU in Romanian Journal of European Affairs, Vol. 8 no. 3, Sep. 2008, pp.51-81. [1]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_rights — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

1108 news items

Texas Public Radio
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:18:45 -0700

The local business under fire for allegedly discriminating against a lesbian couple is getting the support of a minority rights group. The director of LULAC Concilio Zapatista 4383 is siding with Sanchez Ice House, a local business who reportedly told ...

The Times of Israel

The Times of Israel
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:18:45 -0700

The commemoration was an ideal opportunity for Putin to burnish his image as a protector of minority rights. Crimea has seen a number of widely publicized anti-Semitic incidents in recent months, including the placing of two pig heads at a synagogue in ...
Times of India
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:29:31 -0700

MUMBAI: The BJP has made it to the 'State of The World's Minorities and Indigenous People 2014' report for all the wrong reasons. The report, released by Minority Rights Group (MRG) International on Thursday, delves into BJP's role in the Muzaffarnagar ...
Journal Gazette and Times-Courier
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:08:55 -0700

I am afraid our lack of civics education in this country is showing up again. In his July 7th editorial, Austin Mejdrich couldn't possibly be more wrong. I quote "the US was founded on democracy, the belief that the needs of the many outweigh the wants ...


Mon, 14 Jul 2014 22:48:45 -0700

I want to apologize for the delay in getting the Coup update post up but as always I am sifting through an at times huge stream of data and opinions. I must then try disseminate this and compile it into an intelligible and simple post.This is further ...

The Express Tribune

The Express Tribune
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:37:30 -0700

As Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other minorities across Pakistan recount numerous horrific attacks, Minority Rights Group International, a watchdog organisation, has ranked Pakistan as the world's top country in terms of increases in threats to ...

Karen News

Karen News
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 00:24:22 -0700

Burma is arguably the worst offender of minority rights in Asia, according to the latest report by Minority Rights Group International (MRG). The Minority Rights Group annual report documented “disturbing levels of violence and propaganda against ...
The Week Magazine
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:13:16 -0700

Liberals usually pride themselves on defending minority rights against the tyranny of the majority — and above all when the tyranny threatens to become more than metaphorical through the use of the coercive powers of the government. Yet when it comes ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Minority rights

You can talk about Minority rights with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!