Different cultures, languages, and religions enrich society. If this assumption was embraced by everyone, there would not be a problem. Unfortunately, past and contemporary practice shows a picture of oppression, forced assimilation, and even destruction of minority groups with characteristics different from the majority.
Although legal and quasi-legal instruments were adopted after both the First and the Second World Wars, it was not until after the fall of the Berlin Wall that the protection of (persons belonging to) national minorities became a really dominant issue in the international legal and political arenas. From the beginning of the 1990s, States and their international organisations have developed new minority rights instruments and procedures that try to encourage States to live up to their obligations.
This book focuses on three mechanisms in the field: the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (est. 1992), the UN Working Group on Minorities (est. 1995), and the CoE Advisory Committee on Minorities (est. 1997). The core question raised is whether the three mechanisms, with the variety of approaches and working methods at their disposal, really make a difference in the protection of national minorities. Are the interests of the minorities taken more seriously and have they been better protected due to the interventions by one or more of the mechanisms? Based on a thorough and critical analysis of the three organisations and their achievements, the author comes to a series of conclusions as to a better protection of national minorities. Since all three organisations are currently discussing ways to improve the monitoring of minority rights obligations, this book will be of great value to all persons and institutions that play a focal role in this study, be it as a scholar or as a practitioner.
Rianne Letschert studied international law at Tilburg University. She is currently working as a researcher and General Manager at the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (Intervict) of Tilburg University, The Netherlands.