Minority definition (was Re: Czech Republic ratifies...)

Date: Mon, 02 Feb 98 22:19:31 -0500
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Message-Id: <199802022016.WAA04134@mailbox.riga.lv>
To: "minelres-l@riga.lv" <minelres-l@riga.lv>
Subject: Minority definition (was Re: Czech Republic ratifies...)

From: MINELRES moderator       \ Internet:    (minelres@mailbox.riga.lv)

Minority definition (was Re: Czech Republic ratifies...)

Fernand De Varennes  <Fernand.DeVarennes@eurac.edu> wrote: 
> Minority was not precisely defined for the application of Article 26 of
> International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but in a number of 
> decisions and comments the United Nations Human Rights Committee has >
made it relatively clear that defining a minority under the Covenant is not
> left to the discretion of the government: it is an objective definition
> rests on whether or not a linguistic, religious or ethnic group represents

> less than 50% of the population of a State.

> Why and how is the Framework Convention different?

Bad news is that apparently the European governments do not consider the UN
HR Committee's definition anyhow binding :-(.  Reservations made when
ratifying the Convention give good evidence for this, for example: 

The Framework Convention contains no definition of the notion of national
minorities. It is therefore up to the individual Contracting Parties to
determine the groups to which it shall apply after ratification. National
Minorities in the Federal Republic of Germany are the Danes of German
citizenship and the members of the Sorbian people with German citizenship.
The Framework Convention will also be applied to members of the ethnic
groups traditionally resident in Germany, the Frisians of German citizenship
and the Sinti and Roma of German citizenship.

The Republic of Estonia understands the term "national minorities", which is
not defined in the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities, as follows: are considered as "national minority" those citizens
of Estonia who
- reside on the territory of Estonia; 
- maintain longstanding, firm and lasting ties with Estonia; 
- are distinct from Estonians on the basis of their ethnic, cultural,
religious or linguistic characteristics; 
- are motivated by a concern to preserve together their cultural traditions,
their religion or their language, which constitute the basis of their common

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg understands by "national minority" in the
meaning of the Framework Convention, a group of people settled for numerous
generations on its territory, having the Luxembourg nationality and having
kept distinctive characteristics in an ethnic and linguistic way.
On the basis of this definition, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is induced to
establish that there is no "national minority" on its territory. 

I guess that national governments strive to elude claims for the minority
rights on the part of the growing immigrant groups, this is why citizenship
and long lasting ties with the corresponding state are stressed. 

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