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New Minorities, Old Instruments? A Common but Differentiated System of Minority Protection

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Questions concerning whether and how the rights of minorities should be recognised in politics, and how to maintain and strengthen the bonds of community in ethnically diverse societies are among the most salient and vexing on the political agenda of many societies. All policies that seek to reconcile social cohesion, unity and diversity are confronted with a veritable mine-field of dilemmas. Whatever policy options, or mixes of policy options, one wants to choose, one has to face hard trade-offs and serious policy-problems that have been addressed, though in different ways, by moral and political philosophers, political theorists, social scientists, lawyers and by politicians and civil servants. The present paper contends that it is possible to address these issues by bridging two fields of research: minorities and migration. Studying the interaction and complementarities between old and new minority groups is a rather new task because so far these topics have been studied in isolation from each other. It is also an important task for future research in Europe where many states have established systems of old minority rights, but have not yet developed sound policies for the integration of new minority groups originating from migration.

Affiliations: 1: European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen, Institute for Minority Rights Bolzano Italy

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