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Abstract

This chapter will analyze the concept of national minorities as it is understood and implemented in federal Switzerland. It attempts to examine how traditional Swiss understandings of unity and diversity are being challenged by the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities which is currently ratified by 39 European states and designed to be implemented in unitary, decentralized as well as federal states. While protecting and promoting diversity in unity has always been at the heart of the pluralistic Swiss state, the concept of accommodating “national minorities” has been introduced to the Swiss scene mainly by international law.

The chapter will also outline the original understanding of unity and diversity in Switzerland and the empirical and legal challenges that demographic changes and the Framework Convention has brought to the country. The author will then examine the conceptual reactions and responses to these challenges by investigating the initial report on the implementation of the Framework Convention submitted by Switzerland in 2001 and the three subsequent reporting cycles documenting numerous changes in law and policies as well as reform projects that are affecting national minorities. By doing so, the author attempts to clarify the interactions between the country’s traditional, mostly federal, patterns of dealing with diversity in unity and the new ways of thinking about and accommodating national minorities introduced by the Framework Convention. The guiding question will be if and how the implementation of the Convention has impacted on the original Swiss arrangements developed to deal with the country’s plurality.

In: Revisiting Unity and Diversity in Federal Countries

Abstract

In federal states and other states based on vertical power sharing, subnational units are often autonomous in fields closely related to human rights. By providing education, health and social services for instance, subnational units directly participate in the implementation of socio-economic rights. States therefore have to deal with tensions: While federalism provides subnational units with the right to be different, human rights guarantees stipulate equality for all. The question arises whether federal states can or must accept unequal human rights standards and, if yes, to what extent. This chapter aims at investigating the balance between autonomy and its centrifugal impetus, on the one hand, and the centripetal aspirations of human rights, on the other hand. First, it presents the approach of international human rights agencies towards federalism; it then illustrates frictions but also explores synergies between autonomy and human rights standards and, finally, attempts to sketch a conceptual framework for multilevel human rights protection and promotion.

Open Access
In: The Principle of Equality in Diverse States
In: The Principle of Equality in Diverse States
In: The Impact of Uniform Laws on the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century
In: The Principle of Equality in Diverse States
Reconciling Autonomy with Equal Rights and Opportunities
This book examines different approaches by which states characterised by federal or decentralized arrangements reconcile equality and autonomy. In case studies from four continents, leading experts analyse the challenges of ensuring institutional, social and economic equality whilst respecting the competences of regions and the rights of groups.
In: The Principle of Equality in Diverse States
In: The Principle of Equality in Diverse States
In: The Principle of Equality in Diverse States