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The League of Nations and the Protection of Minorities – Rediscovering a Great Experiment

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After World War I the far-reaching border changes in Europe created a large number of new minorities. As a consequence, special protection measures had to be introduced. With the League of Nations’ minority protection system an extraordinary experiment was started. After World War II this system was largely ignored and fell into oblivion.In the past all too easily the minorities themselves were held responsible for the failure of this system. In this context it is often said that minorities behaved in a disloyal manner and therefore it was at least understandable that minority states over the years treated their minorities badly and finally denounced their obligations. In reality, however, such an attitude rests on a radical misinterpretation of the loyalty principle and on a denial of historic facts. All in all, the ideas and concepts of these times live on and are shaping modern human rights thinking.


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