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The International Law Dimension of the German Minorities Policy

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

Ethnic Germans have traditionally been living in a number of other European states as national minorities. These minorities can in accordance with international law count on the support of their mother country as a protective power. During the Cold War, such German initiatives were often seen in Eastern Europe as interference into internal affairs and accordingly rejected. After the end of the block confrontation a significant number of bilateral agreements have been concluded in which the rights of German minorities are addressed. In these treaties the CSCE/OSCE documents play an important role. Doubtless these documents have no legal force. In the light of the theory of law it seems of great interest that clauses concerning minority protection have been integrated into binding international treaties. The treaties between Germany and Central and Eastern European states are examples for the ongoing process of “legalising” politically binding norms. All include, in one way or another, a reference to the political CSCE/OSCE-agreements relevant for minority protection. The relevant regulations are not only confirmed as binding for the signatory states, but rather that they are, although to varying degrees, being declared as legally effective instruments in bilateral relations. This “upgrade”raises these political norms to norms of international law.

Affiliations: 1: IFHV, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany


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