ECMI Publications Programme
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A number of countries in Europe have adopted legislation or policies that pertain to kin-minorities living outside the territory of the state. While a number of the new democracies in Eastern Europe after 1989 incorporated statements in their constitutions indicating concerns for nationals living outside the mother state, ten European countries have taken explicit unilateral action to adopt public law legislation or regulations in favour of kin-minorities outside the mother state. Not all of these actions have extraterritorial reach, nor do all appropriate specific funds. Some address the financial side of minority life. Beneficiaries are mostly individuals, whereas some pieces of legislation support activities and/or institutions. Most authorize an entity in the mother state to be in charge of implementing the measures, and most provision for special status of members of minorities in both the home state and the mother state. However, international law does not sanction unilateral legislation as a means to protect minorities. Only in the event that no other measure or mechanism can secure the protection, does international law reluctantly sanction legal unilateralism. And in such cases, both parties to the issue must agree and consent. This Working Paper examines ten unilateral measures in force in Europe and puts them in the perspective of international law.