As if Peoples Mattered: Critical Appraisal of "Peoples" and "Minorities" from the International Human Rights Perspective and Beyond

Abstract: The subject matter of the thesis is the comprehensive - legal and multidisciplinary - analysis of the terms 'peoples' and 'minorities' in international law. The argument of the author proceeds in four parts: the Problematique which deals with the 'minority challenge' and the international normative response to that challenge; the Critique, criticizing the basic underlying assumptions of the discourse; the Diagnostics, diagnosing the causative factors behind the normative 'malaise'; and the Resolutique, recapping the best international law of human rights offers for the solution of the 'minority' problem on the one hand, and suggesting new ways of looking on the problem, on the other. The understanding is that the legal research in this particular area can be advanced by gaining access to a wider range of humanitarian disciplines. Operating from this vantage point the author has made an attempt to reframe some traditional approaches to the 'minority' problematique and come to the following conclusions: taken in their primal collective dimension, the 'peoples' and 'minorities' can not enter as the parties to an issue under international law, and consequently, their statuses do not amount to a positio standi in judicio; neither do States (and international community as a whole) behave in any consistent fashion vis-à-vis 'peoples' and 'minorities' because they recognize specific legal obligations to this effect; this failure (of the terms and their empirical referents) to meet the test of locus standi comes down to the default inequality - the positionings with which the States and the sub-State groups come on the international scene; as a result, the juridical equality of the dominant and non-dominant groups (spelled out in international law of human rights) is nothing but the normative rationalization of their de facto inequality. The main cause of the illogicalities and contradictions in 'minority'- and 'peoples'-specific provisions are the legal 'games' played by dominant and non-dominant groups. The aim of these games - viewed in the context of a larger whole - is to reinforce and perpetuate the 'sovereignty script'. By gaining insights on the cognitive level and corrections in the decision-making process - impacting the drafting of legal documents - on the practical, it becomes possible to reappropriate the forfeited autonomy of all the stakeholders, both group and individual. As part of the ‘paradigm-shifting’ exercise, the author has made an attempt to redefine the basic terms of art, such as 'international law', 'sovereignty', 'self-determination', etc., and to further develop the theory of individuation (principium individuationis), the implications of which might be instrumental in the continuous quest for the long-term solution of intra- and inter-group struggle and strife.

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