The treatment of ethnic and religious minorities by states is a major issue in the closing decade of the twentieth century. Conflict between ethnic groups, and between groups and states colours international relations and politics. The developments in Eastern Europe and the USSR have led to a re-emergence of ethnic and nationalist issues, whilst the problems of national consolidation of new states inevitably raises questions of culture, religiation and language.
Minorities rights are difficult to accommodate within the individualist and universalist framework of human rights. International law is required to deal with dilemmas such as individual versus
collective rights, passivity on the part of the state towards minority cultures or positive action to promote them, and nation-building as against group self-determination and autonomy. International Law and the Rights of Minorities attempts to explore the response of international law to these major questions through detailed analysis of treaty and customary law, including regional treaties. Areas covered include the prohibition of genocide, Article 27 of the Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the principle of non-discrimination and the related but separable issue of indigenous peoples and international law. Reference is also made to the pre-UN tradition of group protection.
International Law and the Rights of Minorities concludes with an assessment of the achievements of international law in these areas and explores the possibilities for future progress.
`He has produced a book which is certain to endure as an authoritative treatment of the subject. Thornberry has performed the subject of minority rights the service of serious, comprehensive and balanced treatment. Researchers in the field, interested observers, and members of minorities themselves, will long remain in his debt.'
Susan Marks, The Cambridge Law Journal, 1992
'Thornberry's scholarly analysis of the rights of minorities in international law ... highly topical. It is a useful systematic survey of minority rights which will add to the existing (and largely somewhat out-of-date) literature.'
Stephen J. Roth, Institute of Jewish Affairs, Patterns and Prejudice, 2/91
`"Minorities require to be perceived as part of the solution to international disputes rather than the problem." Minorities are not going away. To perceive them as part of a "solution" of disputes is a considerable challenge to individual, community and State thinking. Those seriously undertaking that challenge must read and reflect upon this book.'
International and Comparative Law Quaterly
`This book is an admirably clear and lucid introduction to international law and the rights of minorities.'
British Yearbook of International Law
'this is a very timely and informative book ... A substantial addition to the literature.'
E.W. Webking, University of Lethbridge, Choice, Dec '92
'Certain to endure as an authoritative treatment of the subject ... serious, comprehensive and balanced ... Researchers in the field remain in his debt.'
MRG Outsider. Number 35, April 1993
`This excellent work on a subject no longer in the mainstream of legal study should bring a laudatory reaction from the reader. Originally conceived as a Ph.D. dissertation, the transition to its present form would have received ample blessings from the author's late mentor, Professor Michael Akehurst.'
Touro Journal of Transnational Law
`It is well presented and well written and it thoroughly investigates the development of minority rights from the League of Nations to the late 1980s.'
`Thornberry's project is a valuable one and his method provides useful analyses of and information about the laws being discussed ... a valuable addition to the literature, and a useful guide to the topic for those who wish to find more detail on the rights of minorities than a general human rights text can provide ... This work is a useful reference.'
Australian Year Book of International Law