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11/28/2016 Minoritiesunderinternationallaw

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Minoritiesunderinternationallaw Inthissection

MinoritiesMainpage
Whoareminoritiesunderinternationallaw?
Introduction
Adoptedbyconsensusin1992,theUnitedNationsMinoritiesDeclarationinitsarticle1referstominoritiesas
basedonnationalorethnic,cultural,religiousandlinguisticidentity,andprovidesthatStatesshouldprotect Minoritiesunder
theirexistence.Thereisnointernationallyagreeddefinitionastowhichgroupsconstituteminorities.Itis internationallaw
oftenstressedthattheexistenceofaminorityisaquestionoffactandthatanydefinitionmustincludeboth
objectivefactors(suchastheexistenceofasharedethnicity,languageorreligion)andsubjectivefactors UNNetworkonRacial
(includingthatindividualsmustidentifythemselvesasmembersofaminority). Discriminationand
Protectionof
Thedifficultyinarrivingatawidelyacceptabledefinitionliesinthevarietyofsituationsinwhichminorities Minorities
live.Somelivetogetherinwelldefinedareas,separatedfromthedominantpartofthepopulation.Othersare
scatteredthroughoutthecountry.Someminoritieshaveastrongsenseofcollectiveidentityandrecorded UNRegionalWorking
historyothersretainonlyafragmentednotionoftheircommonheritage. GrouponRoma

ThetermminorityasusedintheUnitedNationshumanrightssystemusuallyreferstonationalorethnic, Documents
religiousandlinguisticminorities,pursuanttotheUnitedNationsMinoritiesDeclaration.AllStateshaveone
Publications
ormoreminoritygroupswithintheirnationalterritories,characterizedbytheirownnational,ethnic,linguistic
orreligiousidentity,whichdiffersfromthatofthemajoritypopulation. Featurestories

Accordingtoadefinitionofferedin1977byFrancescoCapotorti,SpecialRapporteuroftheUnitedNations Additionalresources
SubCommissiononPreventionofDiscriminationandProtectionofMinorities,aminorityis:Agroup
numericallyinferiortotherestofthepopulationofaState,inanondominantposition,whosemembers OHCHRIndigenous
beingnationalsoftheStatepossessethnic,religiousorlinguisticcharacteristicsdifferingfromthoseofthe Peoplesand
restofthepopulationandshow,ifonlyimplicitly,asenseofsolidarity,directedtowardspreservingtheir MinoritiesSection
culture,traditions,religionorlanguage.1/

Whilethenationalitycriterionincludedintheabovedefinitionhasoftenbeenchallenged,therequirementto Declaration
beinanondominantpositionremainsimportant.Inmostinstancesaminoritygroupwillbeanumerical
minority,butinothersanumericalmajoritymayalsofinditselfinaminoritylikeornondominantposition, Declarationonthe
suchasBlacksundertheapartheidregimeinSouthAfrica.Insomesituations,agroupwhichconstitutesa RightsofPersons
majorityinaStateasawholemaybeinanondominantpositionwithinaparticularregionoftheStatein BelongingtoNational
question. orEthnic,Religious
andLinguistic
Inaddition,ithasbeenarguedthattheuseofsubjectivecriteria,suchasthewillonthepartofthemembers Minorities
ofthegroupsinquestiontopreservetheirowncharacteristicsandthewishoftheindividualsconcernedtobe E|F|R|S|C|A
consideredpartofthatgroup,combinedwithcertainspecificobjectiverequirements,suchasthoselistedin
theCapotortidefinition,shouldbetakenintoaccount.Itisnowcommonlyacceptedthatrecognitionof Commentaryonthe
minoritystatusisnotsolelyfortheStatetodecide,butshouldbebasedonbothobjectiveandsubjective Declaration
criteria. E|F|R|S|C|A

Thequestionoftenarisesastowhether,forexample,personswithdisabilities,personsbelongingtocertain
politicalgroupsorpersonswithaparticularsexualorientationoridentity(lesbian,gay,bisexual,transgender Links
orintersexualpersons)constituteminorities.WhiletheUnitedNationsMinoritiesDeclarationisdevotedto
national,ethnic,religiousandlinguisticminorities,itisalsoimportanttocombatmultiplediscriminationand SpecialRapporteuron
toaddresssituationswhereapersonbelongingtoanationalorethnic,religiousandlinguisticminorityisalso MinorityIssues
discriminatedagainstonothergroundssuchasgender,disabilityorsexualorientation.Similarly,itis
ForumonMinority
importanttokeepinmindthat,inmanycountries,minoritiesareoftenfoundtobeamongthemost
Issues
marginalizedgroupsinsocietyandseverelyaffectedby,forexample,pandemicdiseases,suchasHIV/AIDS,
andingeneralhavelimitedaccesstohealthservices.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/Pages/internationallaw.aspx 1/2
11/28/2016 Minoritiesunderinternationallaw
Source: OHCHRworkon
MinorityRights:InternationalStandardsandGuidanceforImplementation(HR/PUB/10/3) racismand
discrimination
1/E/CN.4/Sub.2/384/Rev.1,para.568.
FormerWorkingGroup
onMinorities

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http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/Pages/internationallaw.aspx 2/2