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Minority as inferiority: minority rights in historical perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2008


This article argues that minority rights developed as an indemnity offered to defeated parties. As a grudging and begrudged calculus of compensation, considered inadequate by the vanquished and offensive by the victors, minority rights have been unable to compete in terms of legitimacy with either an increasingly robust international human rights regime or with the right of national self-determination. After reviewing some explanations for the weakness of the existing minority rights regime, this article traces the rationale of what may be described anachronistically as minority rights provisions in international treaties from the Peace of Westphalia to the Versailles settlement, concluding with a consideration of present-day implications of the argument elaborated here.

Research Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2008

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