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School of Intercultural Education, Human Rights and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts

The fourth lecture within the project realized with the assistance of OSCE and
in cooperation with the Faculty of Philosophy, Novi Sad University

October 15, 2011

"Minority Rights" (Lecturer: Miroslav Samardžic)

International regulations for national minorities are by far fewer than those in other domains of the international law. Even the highest international document, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, does not provide the protection of minority rights. It was only since 1990 that the Council of Europe has been adopting international documents dealing the minority protection. Some states have not signed these conventions to this very day. For instance, France has only recently recognized the minority right to the use of mother tongue, whereas over 80 percent of Hungarians in Vojvodina are provided the opportunity either to attend courses in their mother tongue or bilingual courses.

In all states relations among ethnic groups are different. As many as several thousands languages are spoken in some 200 countries worldwide, and this indicates of a number of different ethnic communities in a territory of one state only. As there is no a universal model, every country must find its own for the protection of the rights of national minorities.National minorities can be defined as culturally distinct groups with specific languages, customs and cultures. Minority national councils in Serbia were established in 2008 but minority rights as such are supported by other laws.


Some questions and comments made by students:

1. A man from the Hungarian National Council was knocking at people's doors forcing them to enroll themselves at their list.

2. The position of Hungarians in Vojvodina is much better than that of Serbs in Medvedja.


"Human Rights between Universalism and Relativism; Individual and Collective Rights" (Lecturer: Prof. Aleksandar Boškovic)

The fiercest anthropological disputes were those between Herder and Voltaire. Herder was advocating the study of German nation and tradition, as well as that every nation has a spirit of its own, the spirit of the people (particularistic thought). Unlike him, Voltaire advocated universality that defied a nation's essence or spirit. Such disputes are still on.

It was only after the WWII that human rights were placed at the international agenda. American anthropologists protested, claiming that universality could not be imposed even on the domain of human rights as that would lead to authoritarianism. By developing the theory of ethnos anthropologists were involved in the WWI. Walter Millmann developed the theory about the specificity of the German nation, which should be researched and, hence, the German nation separated from other nations, inferior ones. Anthropologist Eugen Fischer was in charge of lawmaking in the Nazi Germany.

Professor pursued with the case study of Ratko Mladic. According to it, Mladic became a cult figure in Serbia only after ICTY raised an indictment against him. And that was because "ICTY is considered as an alien body interfering into our affairs."


Some questions and comments made by students:

1. Can the Srebrenica genocide be bigger than the genocide of Indians? No one has ever tried Americans for this genocide, the same as for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What about justice?

2. How would you comment Haradinai's acquittal?

3. What is your stance on Kosovo? (Professor replied that the realities testify that Kosovo was no longer a part of Serbia. The student retorted, "Are you aware you may end up in jail for such a statement?")

4. And what about human rights in Kosovo?

5. If there is no legal frame, can Vojvodina secede from Serbia couple of years from now?

6. We are discussing Kosovo but none of us has been there. For people in Kosovo secession is not unconstitutional. All they want to is to survive.

7. Albanians in Albania live in fear of the Kosovo government.



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