Minority Rights, Minority Wrongs
75 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2005
Many of the new democracies established in the last twenty years are severely ethnically divided, with numerous minority groups, languages, and religions. As part of the process of democratization, there has also been an explosion of “national human rights institutions,” that is, independent government agencies whose purpose is to promote enforcement of human rights. But despite the significance of minority concerns to the stability and success of these new democracies, and despite the relevance of minority rights to the mandates of national human rights institutions, a surprisingly limited number of national human rights institutions have directed programs and resources to addressing minority issues. This article explores the activities of national human rights institutions, identifying regional and content trends in these programs, identifying factors correlating to the existence of such programs, and considering the implications of these patterns for the established legal frameworks for minority and indigenous rights. Finally, this article suggests some productive roles that national human rights institutions might play in protecting the interests of minority groups.
Keywords: Human rights, National human rights institutions, Minority group, Minority rights, Human rights commission, Ombudsman, Democracy, International law, Ethnic conflict
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