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Abstract

In 2016, the reputation for stability of the Republic of Cameroon, a state made up of Francophones that constitute the majority (three quarters of the population of 25000000) and Anglophones that constitute a minority abruptly came an end when Anglophone secessionists took up arms to fight for the independence of the former Southern Cameroons. It was no surprise to keen observers of the Cameroon political scene in the last decades, If the government of the day is determined to give what it will take to keep the country united, the secessionists are equally convinced of the rectitude of their cause which they base on the principle of self-determination in international law, contesting the legality of the UN-organised plebiscite of!961 that led to the Reunification of the country. This paper assesses the legality of the claims of the protagonists for better information of all the stakeholders in the ongoing conflict..

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Abstract

The article reviews trends in international non-binding standards:

1) the equalisation of indigenous peoples and local communities as rights-holders;

2) the strength and weakness of the safeguards approach in the context of redd+;

3) the wide definition of who constitutes stakeholders; and 4) the scope of a due diligence requirement.

The article identifies and discusses two approaches:

1) mobilisation, understood as political or legal pressure exerted upon endogenous actors by other endogenous actors, and where international human rights serve as the norm basis for this pressure. 2) control, implying that power asymmetries in relation to external actors are challenged by alliances with human rights organisations and environmental organisations. Both benefit from being embedded in human rights principles: dignity, non-discrimination, rule of law, accountability, transparency, participation and empowerment. Human rights might, however, lead to tensions internally, as these principles can conflict with customary and exclusionary decision-making procedures.

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Abstract

Minority groups are often the subject of studies dealing with sovereignty and European integration. A now also common topic in political science is the rise of populist movements. Scholars study both of these issues extensively, but little research has been done on their nexus. Against this background, this article looks at the current sovereignty discourse in the minority area of South Tyrol. Even though three linguistic groups peacefully co-exist in the Italian province, various calls for dual citizenship have arisen. The possibility of acquiring an Austrian passport became a salient topic, especially since the övp/fpö government of Austria. Using the discourse-historical approach, the authors contextualize medial discourses with social-cultural context information. Results suggest that local media are disseminating a discourse regarding dual citizenship that largely differs from the opinion of the majority of the population, but corresponds to that of the populist actors who seem to fuel the issue.

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Abstract

This article explores how the Supreme Court of India, in applying the judicial doctrine of ‘essential practices’, has embarked on a dangerous exercise of determining whether a particular religious practice is significant enough to warrant constitutional protection under Article 25(1) or not. In tracing a string of judgments, it shows how courts have been guilty of making ill-founded observations about the validity of religious practices, thereby detrimentally affecting religious groups and minorities. Due to this constitutional transgression, the question of ‘what is essentially religious’ turned into the question of ‘what is essential in religion’. The court has neither the right nor the expertise to decide if the religious practice indeed is ‘essential’. State intervention is warranted only based on constitutionally stipulated restrictions of ‘public order’, ‘morality’ and ‘health’. The cardinal rule ought to be of limited state intervention but maximum protection.

Open Access
In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Abstract

Norway’s policies regarding Sámi and most national minorities in an historic perspective can be characterized as forced assimilation; except for Jews and Roma, where the historic policy can be termed exclusion. The Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (trc) is intended to be a broad-based process, resulting in a report to the Norwegian Parliament in 2022. After identifying various explanations for the relatively strong standing of the (North) Sámi domestically and in international forums, the article identifies various ways that human rights will be important for the trc’s work and final report: (i) self-determination; (ii) participation in political life; (iii) participation in cultural life; (iv) family life; (v) private life; and (vi) human dignity. Some of these rights are relatively wide, but all give relevant guidance to the trc’s work. The right to private life did not prevent the Norwegian Parliament’s temporary law to enable the trc’s access to archives

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Abstract

The right to self-determination is an essential international law principle that holds an erga omnes character. Also, the right is often enshrined under domestic legislation, including constitutions. The 1995 Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Constitution (fdre Constitution) is one such constitution and, uniquely, it explicitly recognizes the right to self-determination including the right of secession as an unconditional right of the nations, nationalities, and peoples in Ethiopia. This paper selects the fdre Constitution and analyses whether such constitutional law frameworks better address some of the contentious matters concerning the right to self-determination under international law. In a comparative perspective (with international law), the article analyses, inter alia, how the fdre Constitution approach the questions of who the subjects of the right to self-determination are, and the substantive guarantees for exercising internal and external aspects of the right to self-determination with particular emphasis on secession as a legal right.

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

Abstract

By bringing together the literatures on Europeanisation and minority studies, this article illustrates the centrality of actors representing national minorities as a key to understand Europeanisation of minority politics today. Minority politics is becoming Europeanised indeed, however, not in the ways commonly expected. And although the EU repeatedly fails to develop a clear minority policy, an actor-centred approach adopted in this study helps to reveal how minority actors extend their political strategies to the European level through different channels and how they exploit various opportunities stemming from European-level politics. Jacquot and Woll’s concept of ‘usages of Europe’ not only enables us to trace how actors multiply channels and arenas of participation, but it also helps to spot the emergence of tactics of experimentation with European-level norms and rules, contributing to an acquisition of new roles among minority actors and supporting an actorness formation among those active. As the actors engage in criticising EU institutions, they develop tactics of responsibilising which in turn affects their minority agendas and the actors themselves. In this respect, this study contributes to developing the weakly studied literature about minority agency and Europeanisation.

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
Author: Kjetil Tronvoll

Abstract

The Sidama of southern Ethiopia has a long history of struggle to reclaim self-rule, which was lost with the forceful incorporation of their territory into the Ethiopian empire in 1893. With the fall of the military junta in 1991, the new government reconfigured the country into a multinational (ethnic) federation. Years of protests and turmoil led to the consolidation of a nationalist movement demanding the constitutional right to conduct a referendum on the establishment of a separate Sidama regional state under the federation. The process was marred by demonstrations and incidents of violence, but the vote itself was conducted peacefully with an overwhelming 97.7 per cent ‘yes’ vote. Sidama regional state was eventually formed, but the political leadership initially advocating for its establishment was marginalised due to the centralising policies of the federal government party restricting the principles of the constitutional multinational federalism.

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
Author: Øyvind Ravna

Abstract

In 2008, the Finnmark Act initiated a process of surveying land rights the Sámi and others may have in Finnmark, the core Sámi area of Norway. The Finnmark Commission, which was established to conduct the survey has completed six investigations. The assessments and conclusions in the first five reports are so similar in terms of collective rights appears as cut from the same cloth. In December 2019, the Commission presented its sixth report, which covers the municipality of Karasjok, a community with a Sámi majority. This report marks a significant change from the previous ones, as the Commission for the first time concludes that the people in an investigation field own their outlying areas. This article examines how the Commission arrived at that result, pointing out that it is more an outcome of a different approach to the legal history and international law, than substantive differences in factual circumstances.

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights