Minority Rights

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

Concept description

Wikipedia (reference below) defines minority rights as “the normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or gender and sexual minorities; and also the collective rights accorded to minority groups” and further notes that the term may also apply “simply to individual rights of anyone who is not part of a majority decision.”

Wikipedia goes on to describe the role of minority rights in international law:

“Minority rights, as applying to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples, are an integral part of international human rights law. Like children’s rights, women’s rights and refugee rights, minority rights are a legal framework designed to ensure that a specific group which is in a vulnerable, disadvantaged or marginalized position in society, is able to achieve equality and is protected from persecution. The first postwar international treaty to protect minorities, designed to protect them from the greatest threat to their existence, was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“Subsequent human rights standards that codify minority rights include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 27), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, two Council of Europe treaties (the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Copenhagen Document of 1990.

“Minority rights cover protection of existence, protection from discrimination and persecution, protection and promotion of identity, and participation in political life. For the rights of LGBT people, the Yogyakarta Principles have been approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council. For the rights of persons with disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been adopted by United Nations General Assembly.”

The United Nations declaration of Minority Rights was passed unanimously in 1992 (available at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Minorities/Booklet_Minorities_English.pdf) and the UN’s analysis of progress can be found at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Minorities2012/Pages/minorityrights2012.aspx.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Courts, Tribunals, and Commissions (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.


Wikipedia, Minority rights, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_rights, accessed 20 May 2018.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 20 May 2018.

Image: ICRP Budapest, Populism and minority rights, at http://culturalrelations.org/populism-and-minority-rights/, accessed 20 May 2018.