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Section II, Article 4 »

Gudmundur Alfredsson
From: The Rights of Minorities: A Commentary on the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
Edited By: Marc Weller
This chapter comments on Article 4 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). Equality before the law and equal protection of the law are frequently denied to minority persons. Usually coupled with discrimination, such denials occur frequently in European countries, notwithstanding general respect for the rule of law and democratic systems of government. Article 4 contains three essential elements of minority rights: the rights of equality before the law and of equal protection by the law; the prohibition of discrimination against a person for reasons of belonging to a minority; and the introduction of adequate measures for the promotion of full and effective equal rights for majority and minority persons. However, the language of this Convention remains weak compared with existing standards in international human rights instruments. Furthermore, direct minority access to justice within the Council of Europe continues to be limited.

Eastern Greenland Case »

Gudmundur Alfredsson
1 In 1931, by a royal proclamation, Norway declared that it was occupying and placing under its sovereignty an area in Eastern Greenland that it called Erik Raudes Land ( Territory, Acquisition ; Occupation, Pacific ; see also Occupation, Belligerent ). The area amounted to a substantial portion of Eastern Greenland, ranging from latitude 71°30´ to 75°40´ North. Norway submitted that this area was outside the limits of the Danish colonies in Greenland and should be regarded as having been terra nullius when the Norwegian presence was established ( Territory,...

German Minorities in Poland, Cases Concerning the »

Gudmundur Alfredsson
1 After World War I, two treaties regulated in considerable detail the rights of the German minorities in Poland. As with other peace and minority treaties concluded in the inter-war years, these two treaties were part of an effort under the auspices of the League of Nations to protect vulnerable minorities and, by extension, to ensure peace in Europe. The effort foresaw extensive measures of national protection in the countries concerned as well as international monitoring ( Minority Protection System between World War I and World War II ). 2 The Minorities...

Indigenous Peoples, Treaties with »

Gudmundur Alfredsson
1 In the process of expanding metropolitan territories, a number of colonizing States as well as their colonial territories and subsequent successor States frequently entered into treaties with indigenous peoples . The practice is perhaps most widely known in what are now the United States of America, Canada, and New Zealand. Today, the expression ‘treaties with indigenous peoples’ thus refers to situations where the indigenous people concerned live within the home or metropolitan territory of a State. Indigenous treaties were also frequently employed to establish...

Peoples »

Gudmundur Alfredsson
1 In international law instruments and discourse, ‘peoples’ has replaced the term ‘ nations ’ in cases where the latter term has become so loaded with nationalistic sentiment, with expectations of uniform ethnic and linguistic identity—as in ‘nation-States’ and ‘national minorities’ (see also Minorities, International Protection )—that it may lead to human rights problems and even violent conflict. Peoples is a term less tainted by this unfortunate sentiment, although the same or similar sensitivities and political motivations are never far from the surface. 2...