Freedom means diversity. This simple truth is nowhere more evident, and more relevant, than with the peoples and countries that constitute today’s global society. None of these is homologous in ethnic, cultural, or religious terms. Globalization and the increasing movement of people across borders threatens to kill off the ‘nation’s tate once and for all. However, the dominant or majority cultures in countries around the world seek to impose their identity on other groups with whom they share a territory. Attempts to impose cultural uniformity often come at the expense of minority rights.
To avoid marginalization, minorities often intensify their efforts to preserve and protect their identity. The hardening of opposing forces – assimilation versus preservation – can cause increased intolerance, ultimately leading to armed ethnic conflict in a worst-case scenario. African slavery, the Holocaust, and the relatively recent war in Kosovo, are only a few of history’s brutal examples of humanity’s selfish nature. In examining Thomas Hobbes’ views on the natural state of man (as a selfish being with little or no concern for the well-being of others), it becomes evident that the protection and promotion of minority rights is essential in order to save humanity, essentially from itself. Minority rights must be protected at all costs.
Although some individuals believe that the will of the majority is paramount to the protection of minorities, opponents of such a belief will argue that the protection of minorities is, in fact, the protection of the majority. To illustrate this point, one only needs to compare history and present times to recognize the subtle fact that the Caucasian male, which once constituted a majority in Canada and the United States, is now a statistical minority. Therefore, a majority ethnic, cultural, or religious group must take steps to ensure the protection of minority rights in the event they become a minority, thus protecting their own rights. President John F. Kennedy addressed this same principle when he said, “[This nation] was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” The need to protect minority rights is obvious, but a highly opinionated debate has risen on how to protect minority rights. The extent to which minority rights are protected must consider the role of governance inside state borders, the role of governance and mediation beyond state borders, and the debate over affirmative action.
Democracy is a form of government in which citizens agree to work together in ruling a state. Today, the essential features are that citizens bee free in speech and in assembly. This agreement between the citizens must be accomplished in order to form competing political parties, so all voters are able to choose the candidates in regular elections. The tem democracy comes from the Greek words ...
Good governance plays a vital role in involving minorities in society and protecting their rights and interests. Through recognition, dialogue, and participation, all the citizens of a diverse society can form a greater understanding of one another’s concerns. Socialist Robert Owen, for example, believed that education was a way to eliminate crime and prejudice. Therefore, greater understanding equals greater tolerance for the ever-present diversities in society.
The media and education have important roles in this regard, as do political representatives and community leaders. Discrimination against minorities is battled most effectively in courts of law and state legislatures. Proper legislation is the first step towards ensuring minorities are protected in society. Such efforts are backed by the rule of law and the corresponding belief that even if individuals do not agree with court rulings or legislative policies, citizens are bound to obey this policy. If they disagree, they have the option to lobby the legislature or sue in the courts, rather than rampaging in the streets.
To what extent should governments protect minority rights? On December 10, 1948 one of the most important declarations ever pronounced came about in Paris, France. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by members of the United Nations in order to set a standard for governments around the globe to strive for. This manifesto laid the groundwork for equality, freedom, justice, and ...
Governments may also protect the rights of minorities, and all people for that matter, by entrenching basic liberties in a constitution. Such is the case in Canada and the United States where a Bill of Rights limits the ability of government to trespass upon certain individual liberties. It also places certain liberties beyond the reach of majorities to protect present and future generations. This credo of individual equality forces people to confront their prejudices against certain groups. Although nations with individual rights entrenched in their constitutions may not be free from discrimination, the existence of such a constitution is a public commitment to ending all vestiges of racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious prejudice.
Although no country has a perfect record on minority rights, a country like Finland, for example, has worked hard to implement legislation in order to promote ethnic relations among its population and act as a role model for pluralism and tolerance in multicultural societies. Swedish Finns represent the largest minority (6% of the population) yet still enjoy exceptional status in society. This can be attributed to the fact that Swedish, in addition to Finnish, is an official language in Finland. The people of Finland have recognized the right for Swedes (and their language) to be recognized under the law and have made accommodations to help preserve their cultural heritage.
In recent years, the government has made significant efforts to address the question of land ownership by the Saam i, the indigenous peoples of Finland and neighboring Scandinavian countries. In addition, Finland amended its 1919 constitution in February of 1999 to shift power from the president to the parliament and made additions regarding individual human rights. State authorities need to ensure that minorities enjoy the fundamental right to equality, both in written legislation and in society. Actions taken by states to accomplish this include: higher maximum penalties for racially motivated crimes, the use of ethnic monitoring and employment targets to ensure minorities are not underrepresented in various fields of work, and the establishment of human rights institutions and minority advisory bodies. Local governments, civic organizations, and non-governmental organizations are important in carrying out these tasks. For example, law enforcement officers, legal councils, and judges need to be aware of what constitutes racial discrimination and racially motivated crimes.
The word minority is a word that is mentioned a lot in our society today. The media use it frequently, and they are using it when they are referring to the blacks, Latinos, and Jews in our society. They are labeled into groups like ethnic groups or minorities. The word minority means something small. The majority of people in this country consist of whites, Caucasians. But to me the word minority ...
Changing the composition of police forces may be appropriate to reflect the multi-ethnic communities they serve. Above all else, it is critical that minorities integrate themselves into their communities and take a proactive position towards ensuring their rights are fully recognized. Although the measures available to governments are quite effective in combating minority prejudices, there are some special instances where these measures fail to protect an ethnic, linguistic, or religious group as a whole. When such a group is not isolated within a defined state boundary, instead the group is present in several states, difficulties may arise.
While some governments and their respective societies may be able to protect such a group, others may not be able or willing to make any needed concessions. As a painful result, the need for international governance, or regulation beyond borders becomes necessary. Analysis of the current state of affairs will give insight into the need for international protection of minority rights. The case of the Roma provides critical insight into the problems faced by the world today. The majority of the estimated ten million Roma, more commonly known as Gypsies, live primarily in Europe, and they make up the continent’s largest minority group. Roma reside in other parts of the world as well, including North and South American, Australia, and India.
At first, the Roma were generally well received in Europe, but their unfamiliar customs and “closed” society soon aroused widespread harassment. Dating back as early as 1492, when the Christian conquest replaced Muslim rule in Spain, Roma have been a clear target for persecution and discrimination. This tendency towards ethnic hatred further developed in France and England, where government policy repressed the Roma to the point of being exiled. Beginning in the 15 th century, the Hungarian and Romanian nobles went so far as to enslave the Roma, a trend that lasted for over four centuries. Discrimination against Roma, however, intensified during World War II, when the Nazi’s extended their persecution of Jews to include Roma as well.
A New Age of DiscriminationMany upcoming high school graduates have aspirations of continuing his or her education at a major university. In order to become accepted into a college of one's choice, he or she must dedicate time and efforts to obtain the grades required. People have been taught that through hard work and dedication comes the reward of a better future. Although this seems to be the ...
As many as 500, 000 Roma perished in concentration camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Lublin-Majdanek. In post-war Europe, the Roma were subject to government-sponsored forced assimilation programs designed to deprive them of their distinctive language and culture. In France, their access to campsites has long been restricted in an attempt to force Roma to abandon their nomadic lifestyle. Attempts to assimilate Roma, ironically, have been countered by plans to segregate them as well. In the Czech Republic, for example, one municipality proposed the building of a four-meter high wall in order to separate Roma housing from the non-Roma community is a clear example of the attempt to disengage Roma communities.
In Central and Eastern Europe, there has been a systematic routing of Roma children to “special” schools for the mentally disabled. Several European countries have policies barring Roma from restaurants, swimming pools, and discotheques. In addition, the geographic distribution of Roma throughout the world presents a considerable impediment for the Roma to overcome if they wish to enjoy basic human equality. The case of the Roma presents a considerable dilemma in the fight against minority discrimination. Since inequalities in governmental policies and social environments afflict the Roma in so many countries, it appears that there is a need to confront the situation with the global Roma community in mind, instead of directing efforts to address individual Roma populations in each respective nation. Thus, the use of international governance may prove to be the best solution for combating social and institutionalized prejudice against minority groups, such as the Roma.
Born out of the horrors of the Holocaust, the United Nations is all too aware of the dangers of intolerance when it comes to minority groups. The United Nations and its agencies have advocated protecting and promoting minority rights and identities within multi-ethnic states. For example, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, in 1992 as a “point of reference” for the international community. It includes a list of rights that entitle minorities to enjoy and preserve their culture, participate in decisions at the national level, speak their own language, and worship in the religion of their choice, among others. States are requested to take an active role in the field of education to encourage public understanding of the history, language, and culture of minorities.
Task Words Explain Provide Content Words State sovereignty International order International intervention Mass violence Re-state the Topic The topic is asking me to expand on both the positive and negative effects of global involvement in the internal affairs of independent nations with regard to the avoidance and settling of large-scale bloodshed. It requires me to substantiate my arguments both ...
International organizations such as the United Nations and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) are capable of influencing government policy regarding minority rights in non-member states. If a country is known to neglect the rights of minorities within its borders, the organization will lobby the government for change. Economic sanctions may be imposed to halt economic trade between the nation and member countries. The United Nations may also limit financial aid to the country to force it to change its policies.
If these methods do not work, the organization may go as far as to invade the nation to force changes with military force. Such was the case when NATO began a campaign of air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia when it refused to accept an international peace plan that would have granted autonomy to the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. This was the home of many ethnic-Albanians suffering persecution by Serbian forces. As the Secretary General of the United Nations has said, “At both the human and the financial level, a culture of prevention is more beneficial than a culture of reaction.” The main objective and contribution of the United Nations, in this respect, is to prevent conflicts before they happen.
Although international organizations such as the United Nations and NATO are effective in aiding in the protection of minorities across the globe, a debate arises over the actions of such organizations. Many people believe that the United Nations and its policies, for example, represent a brutal disregard for a nation’s sovereignty. Even though each member nation must ratify UN resolutions in their own legislature for the policies to take full effect, many people believe nations are forced to accept United Nations policy to ensure membership in the UN and maintain good will with other countries. Despite these objections and criticism, human rights are a primary concern for these organizations, especially the United Nations.
... Adversity. Net (web frame. htm) Affirmative Action Affirmative action has assisted many members of minority groups in creating ... nations. This issue is Affirmative Action. To examine affirmation action, this paper looks at the origin of affirmative action programs, U. S. Supreme Court affirmative action ... public / private sector. Affirmative action programs throughout the United States have long been a ...
Minority rights must be protected to this extent in order to achieve equality in our global society. Countries that have pledged support of minorities within their borders have the moral obligation to ensure minorities outside their borders receive at least basic human equality. A nation’s sovereignty should be sacrificed if the people within those borders, especially those representing visible minorities, are being neglected or persecuted. In the 20 th century, efforts by local, federal and international governments have been successful in laying the groundwork for ensuring equality among ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities through legislation and guarantees of basic human freedoms (i. e.
As the next step, governments and civic organizations have taken steps to integrate minorities into society. Education, special interest groups, and political representation are a few of the measures taken to promote societal equality. However, none is more controversial than the proposal for affirmative action, or so-called “reverse racism (or discrimination),” in government and institutional policy. affirmative action is essentially an attempt to remedy the effects of past biases against racial minorities and women through programs of varying degrees of preference to minorities and women in admission, employment and advancement opportunities in government agencies, businesses, and universities. Supporters of affirmative action contend that it is a temporary measure used to assure fair treatment for members of groups historically subject to discrimination.
Various programs are designed to bring minority groups’ involvement in business and higher education up to par with their percentage composition in society. Critics, however, argue that affirmative action runs counter to the concept of a “color-blind” Constitution, violates the principle of advancement based on merit, aggravates racial and gender hostilities, and evokes feelings of inferiority in those affirmative action is designed to help. The debate over affirmative action is highly contested on both sides, and the fact that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor and against affirmative action on several occasions indicates that the debate will not be ended any time soon. Personally, I am a member of a visible ethnic minority and I do not support any move towards affirmative action. Although I have not, members of my immediate and distant family have suffered considerable social and institutionalized racial discrimination in Canada, and countries around the world. I will admit that affirmative action is effective in increasing minority participation in business and universities, however, I feel affirmative action does not aid in the fight against racial and gender persecution.
I sincerely hope that any future university entrance acceptances or corporate positions I may gain are based on merit and qualifications, not on membership with a visible minority group. Affirmative action is not the answer to promoting minority equality. In conclusion, even though many governments in the world today still neglect the rights of minority groups within their boundaries, we have seen that discrimination and intolerance can be fought through the use of legislature and constitutional guarantees. Minorities and majorities alike, have the right to a meaningful life free from persecution.
It is the moral responsibility for ‘tolerant’ nations such as Canada and the United States to become role models for the 21 st century and take a proactive and defensive position for minority rights throughout the world. With proper legislation protecting minority rights in place, the groundwork is laid to overcome the last major obstacle in the struggle for ethnic, religious, and linguistic equality: social prejudice. Even though minorities in Canada and the United States are equal under the law, many suffer considerable hardships in society. It’s a shame that it took a devastating attack on the United States that horrific morning of September 11 th, for a nation with such a long history of social prejudice and intolerance to overcome their differences to stand up against a foreign enemy. The household slogan, “United We Stand,” is faintly ironic in the sense that it took an outside attack for the United States to stand up against hatred and prejudice, when the attacks were coming from the inside for decades. I, for one, hope that more people realize this truth and that a lesson can be learned from this terrible tragedy.
Finally, government legislation and intervention can only go so far in the protection of minority rights. Programs to integrate minorities, such as affirmative action, may create more problems than they fix. Perhaps there is also a limit to what governments and civic organizations can offer for the elimination of social prejudice against minorities. They only solution I can offer is education. The more people know about differences in society, the more they will accept them. Enlightenment is the key to acceptance.
Acceptance is the key to freedom. Once again, freedom means diversity, but does diversity mean freedom? I certainly hope so. BIBLIOGRAPHY “Minority Rights.” The Boston Connection Newspaper. Retrieved from the World Wide Web, November 9, 2002, web “Roma.” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2002. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved from the World Wide Web, November 17, 2002, web Russell, Greg.
“Constitutionalism: America & Beyond.” International Information Publications. Retrieved from the World Wide Web, November 17, 2002, web “Statement by HE Marja tta Ras i, Ambassador of Finland to the United Nations on Minority Rights.” The Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations. Retrieved from the World Wide Web, November 12, 2002, web “United Nations.” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2002. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved from the World Wide Web, November 17, 2002, web Yarbrough, Tinsley. “Protecting Minority Rights.” International Information Publications.
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