Human rights, Legal studies, Nationalism studies

Course date

1 July - 15 July, 1997
15 February, 1997
Course Director(s): 

Tibor Varady

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Anna-Maria Biro

Minority Rights Group, Budapest, Hungary

Nenad Dimitrijevic

Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Gudmundur Alfredsson

Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund, Sweden

Guy Haarscher

Free University Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Geza Hercegh

International Court of Justice, the Hague, the Netherlands

Will Kymlicka

Department of Philosophy, Queen's University at Kingston, Canada

Janos Kis

Department of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Gyorgy Konrad

Writer, Budapest, Hungary

Zoran Pajic

University of London, United Kingdom

Alan Philip

Minority Rights Group, London, United Kingdom

Andras Sajo

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Within the last decades minority rights have become one of the most controversial notions in the domain of human rights. The term is loaded with political aspirations, and it has become a symbol of rhetorically projected positions of the adversaries in the debate. But, regardless of academic/ideological/political standpoints, one can hardly deny the gravity of the problem: many among contemporary polities are heterogeneous, that is decisively marked by parallel existence of different ethnic, religious, cultural groups. These polities are thus "naturally", i.e. pre-politically divided into majorities and minorities. Given the intensity of the group affiliation, and given that the identification with the primary group tends toward the translation in the world of politics, such communities are often marked by deep inter-group conflicts. Since members of non-titular nations in plural societies are "destined" to remain in a minority position, the problem of human rights in such a context gets special connotations. To look for morally defensible, legally efficient and politically feasible concept of minority rights, is one of the most important challenges facing contemporary democracies. Many recent examples of ethnically based violence in plural societies only confirm the importance of establishing the right measure of minority rights, because this is what divides multicultural co-existence from ethnicity- legitimized majoritarian oppression. The objective of the course would be to explore this complex theme by combining different, yet closely related methodological approaches: legal and political philosophy, constitutional law, international law, sociology, political science. We hope that the proposed course would both meet the goals of the SUN and contribute to the development of the CEU, which are objectives that, in our understan-ding, are to be equalled to the development of open, democratic societies in post-communist states. More specifically, we are planning to bring together scholars from the whole region (as well as a number of scholars from the Western countries) and to discuss - guided by principles of tolerance and mutual respect, through an ideologically and politically undistorted communication - the capacities of those who are different to live together without violating neither human freedom, nor specific group identities. Main topics of the course 1) Nation(s) and Community: How are Multinational States Possible 2) Individual versus Collective Rights 3) Position of Minority Rights Within the Realm of Human Rights 4) The international and the European Framework of the Minority Rights 5) Various forms of Minority Autonomies in Europe 6) Case Study: Stable Democracies and "Uncertain" Democracies: the Workshop on the Minority Rights in Romania and Macedonia