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Old and New Minorities: Diversity Governance and Social Cohesion from the Perspective of Minority Rights

Abstract

Minority rights instruments have been traditionally applied to old minority groups. This paper examines to what extent these same instruments are conceptually meaningful to the integration of new minorities stemming from migration. The conviction that minority groups, irrespective of their being old or new minorities, have some basic common claims that can be subsumed under a common definition does not mean that all minority groups have all the same rights and legitimate claims: some have only minimum rights, while others have or should be granted more substantial rights; some can legitimately put forward certain claims – not enforceable rights – that need to be negotiated with the majority, while others should not. In order to devise a common but differentiated set of rights and obligations for old and new minority groups, it is essential to analyse the differences and similarities of both categories of minorities, their claims, needs, and priorities; in this way, it will be possible to delineate a catalogue of rights that can be demanded by and granted to different minority groups. Studying the interaction between traditional minorities and migrants or old and new minority groups is a rather new task because so far these topics have been studied in isolation from each other. It is also an important task for future research in Europe since many states have established systems for the rights of old minorities but have not as yet developed sound policies for the integration of new minority groups stemming from migration.

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Migration in Sub-State Territories with Historical-Linguistic Minorities: Main Challenges and New Perspectives

Abstract

Migration is an important reality for many sub-national autonomous territories where traditional-historical groups (so-called ‘old minorities’) live such as Flanders, Catalonia, South Tyrol, Scotland, Basque Country, and Quebec. Some of these territories have attracted migrants for decades, while others have only recently experienced significant migration inflow. The presence of old minorities brings complexities to the management of migration issues. Indeed, it is acknowledged that the relationship between ‘old’ communities and the ‘new’ minority groups originating from migration (so-called ‘new minorities’) can be rather complicated. On the one hand, interests and needs of historical groups can be in contrast with those of the migrant population. On the other hand, the presence of new minorities can interfere with the relationship between the old minorities and the majority groups at the state level and also with the relationship between old minorities and the central state as well as with the policies enacted to protect the diversity of traditional groups and the way old minorities understand and define themselves. The present lecture analyses whether it is possible to reconcile the claims of historical minorities and of new groups originating from migration and whether policies that accommodate traditional minorities and migrants are allies in the pursuit of a pluralist and tolerant society.

Open access
Why Multilingualism and Multilingual Communication Jeopardize a Common Social Policy for Europe

Abstract

This paper studies the consequences of European multilingualism and multilingual communication for a common social policy in the Europe Union. In the past fifty years, the main focus of the Europeanization project has been on financial-economic developments and less on a common social policy. Even today, there is no common framework for social protection in the European Union. Common minimum income or wages for European citizens are lacking. In this paper, it will be argued that the lack of social protection has to do with Europe’s linguistic diversity. Language is seen as a building block of national communities and their political cultures. The European integration project can only continue if different European political cultures are shared. However, due to the fact that a neutral lingua franca is lacking, this has been unsuccessful so far. The interaction of social groups that have a different language repertoire with the structures of multilevel governance are responsible for the fact that some of these social groups, including the ‘Eurostars’, and national cosmopolitans benefit from social protection, whereas other groups lacking relevant language skills, such as anti-establishment forces, commoners, and migrants, are excluded from the European power domains. These power configurations can be fruitfully studied in the floral figuration model. Consequently, due to these patterns of inclusion and exclusion, true solidarity among European citizens is not within reach. These claims will be illustrated by a case study on the Netherlands, a country that has been pursuing neoliberal policies counterbalancing Eurozone and economic crises and is trying to assimilate migrants and other newcomers. Apart from assimilatory policies targeting migrants, language games used by competing forces are playing an important role in the discourse in order to set up power structures.

Open access