Enhancing Minority Rights Using Group Litigation in Europe

The European regime of the protection of national minorities could not substantially go beyond the level of protection provided by the general international minority rights regime, contrary to beliefs held by many in the beginning of the 1990s. E.g., while there has been advances in the area of indigenous peoples’ rights, no similar movement can be traced concerning national minorities. The adoption of group level guarantees continues to be blocked by the distrust and opposition of states.

The research identifies a solution that does not question the essentially individual based approach to human rights and minority rights, while allows the recognition of rights that can be enforced on the level of groups. It builds on a solution that has received heightened interest in European lawmaking for the past years, albeit not in the minority rights context: group litigation. The research hypothesizes that the recognition of the group in a legal procedure can provide a solution for the claims phrased (at least partly) in collective terms, even where the underlying substantive rights remain to be framed as individual rights.

The project assesses the possibility of implementing, in Europe, such a proposal, before (quasi-)judicial bodies, on the national, supranational and international level. It examines to what extent the proposal could link to the existing procedural solutions or to those whose introduction is being considered, e.g., the European debate on the introduction of group litigation, the corresponding national procedures, the pilot judgment procedure before the European Court of Human Rights or the collective complaints mechanism under the European Social Charter.

Researchers: Zsolt Körtvélyesi, János Fiala-Butora

Kickoff event: Challenges of Effective Minority Rights Litigation in Eastern Europe with a Special Focus on Procedure, 2018. április 13.