Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Social Integration of "Old" and "New" Minorities in Europe in Views of International Expert Bodies Relying on Human Rights: Contextual Balancing and Tailoring

Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Social Integration of "Old" and "New" Minorities in Europe in Views of International Expert Bodies Relying on Human Rights: Contextual Balancing and Tailoring

Article excerpt

Increasing societal diversity resulting from international migration is among the most important transformative forces in modern societies (Castles, 2005: 277-278). In the European context, redrawing state borders and the "birth" of new states after two World Wars and the Cold War have made the subject of "older" (national) minorities and kin-minorities a highly relevant issue in both inter-group and inter-state relations. The emergence of new states with Russian minorities after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the beginning of the 1990s has been a prominent European issue involving a kin-state-kin-minority relationship with implications on integration, inter-state relations, as well as international peace and security (Wolff, 2013: 67-70). The current tensions and conflicts in Ukraine are examples of these challenges.

Due to the effects of the diversity dynamic involving "old" and "new" minorities, the integration (or social integration)1 of persons belonging to the groups has become an important subject to be addressed by states. Today, integration is actively discussed both at national and international levels. The growing importance of the topic of integration is also reflected in international human rights norms, particularly in the area of racial discrimination, racism and other forms of intolerance (anti-racism norms), but also in the norms specifically addressing minorities (minority norms), migrant workers, foreign residents, asylum-seekers and refugees, and indigenous peoples (Pentikäinen, 2008: 24-145).2 Because international norms are generally worded and social integration is a process, human rights norms consist of only very broad remarks on integration. Additionally, states have insisted on keeping integration issues that touch upon important national interests within national discretion. This can be seen, for instance, within the European Union (EU), where member states have expressly retained decision-making power regarding integration issues at the national level (ibid.:193-206). Despite this, EU policies and legislation, which create legal entitlements and statuses for individuals, do have bearing on integration processes (Muiznieks, 2010: 22). The emergence of integration as an important societal subject is also visible in the activities of international expert bodies working in the area of international human rights. Their views offer, at best, useful tools for states to design national integration policies and concrete integration measures.

This article discusses the concept of integration as informed by the work of three international bodies working closely with European minority issues and having frequently and expressly considered integration in their activities. The three focal bodies are: the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC), the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe, and the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The work of all three bodies is linked to human rights and focuses on groups characterized by ethnic, cultural, linguistic and/or religious features, that is, groups at the heart of debates on integration. The purpose of the article is to shed light on the topic of integration by discussing its development in the work of the three bodies, by comparing the approaches of the bodies, and by pointing out possible questions that require further development. Some remarks are also made on theories and models of integration.3

1. Development of the topic of integration in the work of the three international bodies

The topic of (social) integration has been on the agendas of the ACFC, ECRI and the HCNM since the beginning of their activities, and they have considered integration in an increasingly visible fashion.4 Views and emphasis on integration differ to some extent from body to body, resulting from, among other things, the different roles, nature and mandates of the bodies. …

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