Acceptance or Challenge?
Definitional trends in the legal management of national and religious minorities (diversity)
Abstract: One of the legal expressions of multiculturalism is that of the protection of minority groups. However, after several decades of debate at different levels we still miss a valid definition of important instrumental concepts such as “national minority” or “religious minority”. This creates significant problems in the identification of the potential minorities and in the implementation of protection measures when they are needed. At the same time, the use of religion as a factor for the identification of minorities is becoming more and more controversial. Religion is an identity and diversity element protected by a generic freedom. In this respect, legally protecting religious (cultural) groups may be difficult from a definitional perspective. This paper portends to confront different approaches to the definition of national and religious minorities, pointing out the main legal questions at stake, and underlining some inconsistencies and challenges of the current frameworks and prevailing interpretations. The hypothesis is that the concept of “religious minorities” is the widest of all categories of minorities and is acting as an open door for the progressive extension of the traditionally restrictive concept of “national minority”.
Keywords: minorities, diversity, definition, religious minorities, national minorities
Defining minorities has proved to be one of the most complicated legal tasks whether for international or domestic institutions. After several decades of debate at different levels we still miss a valid definition of important instrumental concepts such as “national minority” or “religious minority”. The lack of a legally binding...
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