The Fall of the Iron Curtain and Its Significance for the Establishment of Minority Rights Regimes in Eastern Europe

In: European Yearbook of Minority Issues Online
Alan Phillips
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This article examines the development of minority rights regimes in Europe following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. It shows how the foundations for democracy were reinforced by the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 and the opportunities it created for dialogue. The major concerns of many states to prevent irredentism and violent inter-ethnic conflicts provided the opportunity to adopt international standards on the protection and promotion of minority rights. Civil society, including members of minorities, were in the vanguard, as they promoted democratic change in 1989 and played a leading role in influencing minority rights standards and their implementation. The Conclusions of the 1990 csce Copenhagen Human Dimension influenced the undm, formed the backbone of the fcnm, and became an invaluable set of standards used by the hcnm for conflict prevention. Twenty-five years later, it is evident the fall of the Iron Curtain was highly significant for minority rights regimes throughout Europe.

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