The rights of minorities in international law

Abstract

There are 8,000 languages spoken accompanied by similar number of distinct ethnic groups worldwide, while at the same time the Organization of United Nations comprises approximately 200 states. A discrepancy between a number of ethnic communities and sovereign political agents in the international arena implies that many ethnic, language or religious minority groups seek recognition and protection within states they inhabit. As a part of human rights agenda minority rights are guaranteed at the international level. Although the current international system presents a large set of provisions relevant to the protection of minorities, its main weakness is the fact that majority of them are not legally binding. This paper provides an introductory review on the minority protection regimes which have developed in the main international institutions (i.e. the United Nations, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union) in response to the demands of minority groups.

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