ECPR workshop report

From: MINELRES moderator <>
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 08:16:06 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: ECPR workshop report

From: MINELRES moderator <>

Original sender: Lukas H. Meyer <>

ECPR workshop report

Report on ECPR-Workshop, University of Warwick, March 23-28 1998
`Sub-Sovereign European Nations. Accomodating non-exclusive or non
territorial claims of Roma/Sinti, Jewish and Saami minorities´
Workshop Directors: Andreas Føllesdal & Lukas H. Meyer
This workshop addressed the claims of the Roma/Sinti, Jewish and Saami
minorities in Europe. Territorially based federal solutions seem
unworkable or unnecessary in response to the non-exclusive claims to
cultural rights and political autonomy of these groups. The recent
Council of Europe's "Framework Convention for the protection of
National Minorities" suggests that these topics will receive much
political and academic attention in the near future.

At the workshop, participants brought conceptual and normative
analyses to bear on these issues, as well as on the significance of
European conventions for the emergence and resolution of conflicts.
Bringing together Political Scientists, Sociologists, Political
Philosophers and Legal Scholars the workshop began investigating into
the normatively relevant aspects of the minorities´ collective self
understandings. Particular attention was paid to relating the
normative ideas of cultural equal respect and identity to the specific
political, economic, social, environmental, and historical context in
which the minorities pursue their claims. A central assumption of the
contributors was that sound normative arguments must reflect the local
and specific features of the minority culture as well as the likely
effects of institutional arrangements such as special rights of

Anthony Carty´s contribution on Ireland provided important background
for discussing non-territorial arrangements for satisfying the claims
of minorities. Though contested also for the Irish case, a territorial
response remains an option for some sub-sovereign European nations.
Carty´s paper also shows the significance of collective experiences of
past injustices for the present claims made on behalf of the
conflicting groups in Ireland. It underscores the need for standards
of legitimacy for claims based upon shared understandings of the
groups, and for the scope of stable institutional arrangements.

We found the following elements of the culture of sub-sovereign
European nations to be of particular significance for understanding
both what claims are made and for assessing the legitimacy of these
claims: historic homeland or the lack of it; collective experiences of
past injustice; systematic and long lasting discrimination as a
minority culture; and the group's claim to unique and valued features
in conflict with the surrounding majority culture.

Both Andreas Føllesdal and Lukas H. Meyer give accounts of the
normative significance of collective experiences of past injustice and
their lasting impact - Føllesdal with particular attention to
indigenous populations, Meyer stressing the link between the intrinsic
value of group membership for individuals and their attempts at
redressing historic injustice. Ulrich Schneckener provides a typology
of the special-rights claims being made on behalf of cultural groups.

One major challenge to the equal respect owed national minorities is
the prevailing self understanding of the surrounding majority. The
protection of national minorities often challenges the perceived
homogeneous common identity. Recognising that a national identity is
both constructed and continually contested is important if the
specific culture of a minority is to be recognized and protected. Mika
Hannula´s presentation brings to the fore the post-World War II
changes of the allegedly homogeneous national collective identity of
Finland, challenged by, inter alia, the Saami and Roma/Sinti
minorities. John Charvet investigates the normative grounds for a
common public political culture, and the legitimacy of granting
special rights to minorities. Such claims, if any, must be based on
the claims of individuals to equal treatment.

Among the challenges to a liberal theory of national minorities are
the dilemmas between illiberal internal minority practices and the
minimum requirements of respect for the autonomy and equal respect of
all citizens. Oonagh Reitman shows how such conflicts arise with
respect to the divorce practices in orthodox Jewish communities in
England. Importantly, she suggests how small changes in the rules of
the practices might dissolve the conflict. This underscores the need
for detailed knowledge of the content and context of minority cultures
as well as for creative suggestions for institutional redesign.

The Saami, an indigenous population living in Sweden, Norway, Finland
and Russia, base their claims to cultural and political autonomy and
self-government over use and access to land and water on all four of
the mentioned features of their situation. Else Grete Broderstad
provides a historical and legal account of the Saami political claims,
including an account of the Saami parlament and an account of the
Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish state policy towards the Saami
political claims. Nils Oskal´s is a theoretical contribution bringing
the principle of equal respect to bear on Saami aboriginal claims to
transnational cultural autonomy and political self-government.

The Roma is a cultural group without an obvious claim to an historical
homeland and living dispersed across many European nation states. They
importantly base their claims on the lasting impact of the attempted
Nazi genocide and pervasive discrimination. David Canek analyses how
the situation of the Roma changed in the transition from communist
Chechoslovakia to the post-1989 separation into the Czech and Slovac
republics. Zdenka Machnyikova explicates the legal instruments
addressing minorities in Europe, investigating what factors stand in
the way of the Roma/Sinti being effectively protected. Most
interestingly, she discusses the significance of the low degree of the
political self organization and issues of defining the Roma/Sinti as a
national minority or race in the relevant sense.
Else Grete Broderstad, University of Tromso, `Indigeneous Rights and
the Role of Citizenship´

David Canek, Charles University Prague, `Politics of Exclusion: Roma
in the Czech Republic´

Anthony Carty, University of Derby, `The Irish Constitution,
International Law and the Northern Question: The Need for Radical

John Charvet, London School of Economics and Political Science,
`Individual Interest in Group Membership and Group Rights´

Andreas Foellesdal, ARENA, University of Oslo, `Indigenous Minorities
and the Shadow of Injustice Past´

Mika Hannula, University of Turku, `The Concept of Finnishness - From
the Illusion of Monolithic Culture to an Awareness of Cultural

Zdenka Machnyikova, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities,
`Selected Problems of Legal Protection of Roma in Europe´

Lukas H. Meyer, University of Bremen, `Historical Injustice and Self

Nils Oskal, Saami College, `Saami Situation in Norway. Justifying
Aboriginal Rights in the Context of a Nation-State´

Oonagh Reitman, University of Oxford, `Cultural Accomodation in Family
Law. Jewish Divorce in England´

Ulrich Schneckener, University of Bremen, `Minority Rights in Ethnic
Conflict Regulation: Normative and Practical Aspects´
For more information see
Lukas H. Meyer, D. Phil.
Universitaet Bremen, FB 8,
Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS)
Linzerstr. 4
D 28334 Bremen
tel.: +421-2187598; fax: 2187248
private tel./fax: +421-374725

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