From the dawn of modern international law, manifold treaties (especially peace treaties) have recognized the rights of specific minorities in specific territories. Today - with Eastern Europe once more in turmoil and with minority groups all over the world clamouring for recognition - there is a growing awareness that, irrespective of the observance of the fundamental freedoms of individuals, minority groups have their legitimate interests that must be appreciated and accommodated. This collection of essays grew out of an international legal colloquium, held at the Faculty of Law of Tel Aviv University in March 1990. Some of the papers have already been published in volume 20 of the Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, but others are printed here for the first time. The authors come from different parts of the world and represent different legal backgrounds. They are by no means at one in their analysis of the human rights of minority groups, but they all share the sense that problems of minorities cannot be brushed aside or glossed over. It is not too hazardous to forecast that these problems will actually intensify in the 21st century.
Whereas they cannot be solved through exclusively legal means, international and constitutional lawyers must do their utmost to identify flash points and to offer at least some prescriptive guidelines. This is the principal purpose of the present volume.