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Minority protection norms - the setup, the interpretation and the practice

The Justice & Governance Cluster seeks to invest in research and subsequent dissemination of information and knowledge on the ways norms concerning minority protection are set up, translated into practice and interpreted in the course of this translation.

The Cluster opts for the topics which still have significant gaps and deficiencies in the research already done. The projects selected must combine academic novelty with practical significance.

The backbone theoretical issues to be addressed are:

  • Relationships between different ways to conceptualize diversity
  • Limits of applicability for minority protection
  • Relationships between discourses and human behavior in terms of making and implementing decisions
  • Symbolic policies versus instrumental policies
  • Symbolic production - generation of meanings and values.

Contemporary minority rights context

At the same time as issues of norm diffusion and convergence have come to the fore at the macro level with the EU taking a greater role in Europe’s normative regime, aspects of legitimacy and responsibility of protection schemes come to the fore as these are interpreted at the local and regional levels.

[read more]

Public administration capacity is ever more topical. This comes with the change in attention from standard setting to operationalization of minority rights. Governance requires translation of standards through policy design, programme development, knowledge transfer and capacity building as well as monitoring through indicators, targets and benchmarking.

Analytical categories

Minority protection and related notions are categories of practice employed for adjusting nation-building to cultural heterogeneity and vice versa. Taken as categories of analysis they are highly problematic and have a limited applicability.

Despite recent achievements in minority protection standard setting, institutional development still rests on a combination of loose ideas open to different interpretations. Correspondingly, the ways they are translated into practice vary significantly. Moreover, ideas under the headline of minority protection can be abused and misused in some circumstances.

This is the complexity that inspires the work of the Justice & Governance Cluster.


Alexander Osipov
Graham Donnelly

Affiliated experts

Farimah Daftary
David Galbreath
Fernand de Varennes
Kristin Henrard
Malte Brosig
Balazs Vizi
Jennifer Jackson Preece
Levente Salat
Kinga Gal

Cluster News

Eastern Partnership Programme back in Ukraine

Eastern Partnership Programme back in Ukraine

Following the successful kickoff conferences in Ukraine last month, the ECMI Eastern Partnership Programme (EPP) team is back in Kiev this week to conduct seminars in partnership with the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]
Alexander Osipov: Diversity policy in Ukraine and its neighbours

Alexander Osipov: Diversity policy in Ukraine and its neighbours

ECMI Senior Research Associate Alexander Osipov’s article “Diversity Policy in Ukraine and Its Neighbours: Running on the Spot Again?” asks: what role may ‘diversity policies’ in Ukraine and beyond play in further national developments?
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]
Examining minority protection through an interdisciplinary lens

Examining minority protection through an interdisciplinary lens

A prime example of how the ECMI approaches minority protection issues through an interdisciplinary lens...
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]
ECMI Eastern Partnership Programme internship

ECMI Eastern Partnership Programme internship

The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) is currently seeking interns who will assist with the research, translations and proofreading of documents for the ECMI Eastern Partnership Programme (EPP) “National Minorities and ethno-political issues: Belarus – Moldova – Ukraine”.
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State