The treatment of ethnic and religious minorities by states is a major issue in the closing decade of the twentieth century. Conflict between ethnic groups, and between groups and states colours international relations and politics. The developments in Eastern Europe and the USSR have led to a re-emergence of ethnic and nationalist issues, whilst the problems of national consolidation of new states inevitably raises questions of culture, religiation and language.
Minorities rights are difficult to accommodate within the individualist and universalist framework of human rights. International law is required to deal with dilemmas such as individual versus
collective rights, passivity on the part of the state towards minority cultures or positive action to promote them, and nation-building as against group self-determination and autonomy. International Law and the Rights of Minorities attempts to explore the response of international law to these major questions through detailed analysis of treaty and customary law, including regional treaties. Areas covered include the prohibition of genocide, Article 27 of the Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the principle of non-discrimination and the related but separable issue of indigenous peoples and international law. Reference is also made to the pre-UN tradition of group protection.
International Law and the Rights of Minorities concludes with an assessment of the achievements of international law in these areas and explores the possibilities for future progress.