Translation of Norms and Ideas into Practice

The WP addresses the ways of interpreting a set of notions central for minority policies (equality and non-discrimination, conflict prevention and community relations, positive obligations and assessment of their cost-effectiveness) and legal norms in course of their implementation. The topic allows for deconstructing the actual interpretations of what the perceptions of equality, conflict, promotion of minority cultures and so forth mean in their practical application, particularly at sub-national and local levels.


Research Task 1: Conceptual Organization of Equality Issues and its Impact on Minorities

The point of departure for the research task is the assumption that the understanding of human equality within the domain of minority protection has not been identical with interpretations of the same notion in countering discrimination, although these two approaches have had the same theoretical and moral basis. The goal is to assess the interaction of the two framework approaches.

This research task is supposed to be achieved exclusively by guest PhD students or post-docs invited to do their own research on the following topics:

  • impact of the notion of “full and effective equality” (FCNM) on national debates and legislations concerning non-discrimination;
  • elaboration on the notions of “sliding scale” in positive obligation of states concerning minority protection;
  • discrimination in unequal treatment of different minority groups.

ECMI could host and supervise PhD students in social philosophy, political science or law who would be working on complex and still relatively neglected issues related to both the areas of minority protection and non-discrimination. The idea of “full and effective equality” introduced by FCNM was supposed to accumulate all conceptual achievements of the previous developments in safeguarding equality for minorities and fighting systemic discrimination on a variety of ground; it would be interesting to examine the impact of this legal novelty. The idea of “sliding scale” put forward by Fernand de Varenness (1996) means that positive obligations of states with respect to minorities stipulated particularly in FCNM are still lacking criteria of necessity and sufficiency and thus remain conventional on an ad hoc basis. The idea of discrimination between minority groups mean that minority groups may be treated differently (particularly, be recognized in different ways or be granted different amounts of subsidies) for a variety of reasons, both legitimate and illegitimate. There is little jurisprudence on this matter, but the issue, as the former one, is still elaborated insufficiently from a theoretical perspective.


Research Task 2: Practical Interpretation of Theoretic Issues in Minority Policies at National, Sub-National and Local Levels.

The broad notions and ideas pertaining to minority policies embedded in international and domestic law are open to a variety of interpretation in course of their implementation, particularly at sub-national and local levels. It is assumed that in many countries public administration has units in charge of ethno-cultural or minority policies, and these units actually have some margins of appreciation in assimilating and transforming the broad norms and principles they have to stick to. Adaptation of these general norms to concrete complex social realities may result in partial implementation, abusive misinterpretation, gaps between talks and decisions, “systemic hypocrisy”, i.e. disjunction between what different units of the same official authority are doing and so forth.

The following sub-topics are of particular importance:

  • models of including non-discrimination agenda in diversity/minority policies;
  • interpretations of minority participation in public life and the ways consultative mechanisms are functioning;
  • interpretations of interethnic conflict and dialog;
  • assessment of minority policies’ cost-effectiveness;
  • vision of cultural development and promotion of identity in minority policies

These issues can be addressed in the frame of comparative transnational field research in several individual countries. The cluster plans to initiate the creation of a project team comprising partner institutions and scholars in several countries of Europe.

ECMI founders:

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