Contemporary European History

Minority Rights as an International Question

Carole Fink 


In response to the atrocities committed during and after the First World War and the need to create a stable east European settlement, the diplomats in Paris constructed the world's first system of international protection for minorities. The League of Nations, charged with the enforcement of the Minority Treaties, set up a cautious ‘political’ system, which failed either to shield minorities or pacify their governments. No international system was revived after the Second World War, but since the fall of communism, Europe – looking forward to the future as well as back to the past – has organised new supranational institutions to protect endangered religious and national groups.