The rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minority groups and their members in international law.
The thesis concerns itself with the fundamental rights of ethnic,
religious and linguistic groups in contemporary international law.
The rights outlined are to be found in multilateral treaties and
general or customary international law. The first right identified is
the right to existence which is principally associated with the
Genocide Convention 1948. The second right outlined is the right of
individuals belonging to minorities to an identity in cultural,
religious and linguistic terms. This right is found in treaties
rather than general customary law. The principal vehicle for the
right to identity is Article 27 of the United Nations Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. The relationship between this right and
the right of individuals not to be discriminated against on grounds
of race, language or religion is a major focus of the text. The
rights of indigenous and tribal populations are also discussed: in
addition to being in most cases minorities in their States, these
populations have been the subject of specific action mainly in the
International Labour Organisation. They are therefore entitled to
all the rights of minorities as well as those rights specifically
drawn up in their favour.
The thesis commences with an outline of the legal and philosophical
problems raised by the existence of minorities and indigenous
populations and discusses the history of the protection of minority
groups by international law, culminating in the League of Nations
regime for their protection. A consistent theme running through the
work is the relationship between individual and collective rights in
international law and the conclusion of the work attempts to
characterise international law in this respect, and to forecast the
direction which the law will take in the future.