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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Minority Integration Rhetoric: An Obstacle to Minority Empowerment

Brunel University

‘Integration’ of minorities within the states they live seems to have become the new buzz-word for European states as well as European organizations. Since the 1990s, when integration policies became widespread in Europe, integration has been ‘transposed’ from debates on immigrants to wider discussions and policies on minorities, multiculturalism and diversity within the state. The concept has also expanded to include ‘new topics such as language, policymaking in the field, interethnic relations, discrimination, age, gender and generation’.
This paper argues that the current focus on integration -as promoted and explained by European states in European and United Nations human rights bodies- often falls short of the existing human rights standards. The vagueness and often restrictive understanding that states give to ‘integration’ combined with the reluctance of international bodies to openly criticise such understandings, the current rhetoric promotes a diluted version of minority rights protection, which in essence hinders the empowerment of minorities as envisaged by international law norms. Further, this newly found enthusiasm on ‘integration’ has resulted to – (aims at ?)- talking less about multiculturalism, as discussions on matters related to the state management of cultural diversity now focus on integration. The paper will be firmly based in international law and will use United Nations discussions with European states to highlight how European states view and implement integration.
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