Bücher | Books - Part 94

posted by PP on 2006/07/31 15:13

[ Bücher | Books ]

The Balkan Academic News Book Review distributed a new review via e-mail-Newsletter. Book Review Editors are Jelena Obradović and Cristina Bradatan, the © belongs to Balkan Academic News:
Christian-Radu Chereji (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca): Tove Malloy: National Minority Rights in Europe. Oxford University Press, 2005. 376 pp. [ISBN: 9780199274437]
National Minority Rights in Europe is an excellent and highly stimulating and complex piece of work written by Tove H. Malloy. In his book, she embarks in a journey that seeks to find moral recognition and ethical acceptance of national minorities. Although her enterprise has a universal usefulness, it's intended to offer a more specific solution for the troublesome Balkan's problems of the 90s.

In Part I Malloy investigates the definition of national minority from the view of international law and legal theory. Throughout this section, the author leads the reader into the labyrinth of the problems, tensions and issues that national minority rights have in relation to state sovereignty and international law.
First she identifies Europe's national minorities, who are these minorities, how have came into being and how are these minorities defined according to European international law. Also the relation of minorities, first religios and then national, with the principle of state sovereignty throughout Europe history is well pointed out.
Second, the way in which national minorities have co-existed with the majorities across the Middle Ages until 1989. Starting with the religious rights granted to French Huguenots in 1598 by the Edict of Nantes, various international treaties realizes a transition from religious to civil and political minorities, and their according rights, pointing out that the national minority rights were inexisting in modern international law. Also, the author shows that minorities were very much an anomaly for the national state and state nationalism in the 20th century and the public policies for various minorities were an extremely sensitive issue in a century drowned in the blood of nationalist wars.
In the enthusiastic mood of the early 1990s generated by the fall of Communism in Europe a shadow loomed at horizon. National minorities, unable to manifest themselves throughout generations of state-imposed silence and craving for rights of their own have bursted out loudly, clashing with the majority populations, sometimes in bloody conflicts, throughout South-Eastern Europe. These conflicts have unearthed an old question: are there cultural or political, individual or collective, human or institutional rights to be granted for minorities. The Balkan wars of the 90s, the peacekeeping troops stationed in turmoiled areas and EU policies of rapid eastward expansion seems to have answered.

Throughout Part II, the author tries to find the ways in which the theory copes with national minority rights. Her view is that democratic institutions empowers citizens through inclusion, recognition and deliberation. This section also seeks and finds a model of accommodation that could implement a non-secession, non-separation concept of national self-determination for co-nations.
First, in the case of inclusion, two major theories - liberalism and nationalism - have fought over and over. Malloy shows very skillfully that at first liberalism has "domesticated" nationalism by interpreting it as a civic force. Although the debate was revived in the 1990s, with the eruptions of nationalistic sentiments, the idea of liberalism prevailing over nationalism has withstood and was further developed both in theory and practice.
Next, the author analyzes the distinction that liberals and 'communitarians' make in defining co-nation rights and their attitude towards the accommodation of these rights and the minority itself. It is a chapter that emphasizes the great importance of concepts like "just" and "social worthiness". The difference between the two generates from a divergent view of how personal identity is formed. The liberals embrace the powerful idea of acquiring an identity, the communitarians believe that it is a question of ascribed characteristics. Hence the difference between equal rights to pursue and achieve a chosen identity versus a 'policy of recognition', which depends a subjective perception of personal identity.
In the case of deliberation, seen as a model of accommodation for national minorities, Malloy offers a solution to centuries-old problems. The 'discursive approach' suggests costitutionalism based on mutual recognition in terms of self-government, consent through ongoing multilogue and cross-cultural respect. The author considers that differences on aims, prefferences and loyalties among diverse groups in divided societies should be settled through argument and collective reasoning. It is an enterprises that puts a great deal on ethics and on ethical virtues, both of the individual and the community, virtues that may create an framework of cosmopolitan consideration of the 'other'. The latter has the power to go beyond the simplistic and forever-old dichotomy of friend versus enemy. This model is therefore able to connect virtues and ethics with the politics of accommodation.

For the Part III, Malloy embarks on a much more difficult task that resides in analyzing the struggle to put in practice an excellent theory on national minority rights, enterprise that fails painfully often. She examines the politics of democratization, focusing on the efforts of Council of Europe and European Union to cope with a decade of violent nationalist outbursts in Eastern Europe. The author searches the influence that national minority discourse has over the politics of democratization and integration (Chapters 7 and 8). Although a very difficult task, it is needed for the assessment of how these two major European international politics were informed by the national minority rights discourse. Chapter 9 analyzes the way in which these two major trends oppose each other, each seeking 'ideological closure', the very thing that generates a static hegemonic view of societal relations.
In the case of the politics of democratization, exemplified by the activities of the Council of Europe, Malloy shows that the high hopes and expectations of the early 90s directed towards the design of a co-nation rights scheme, scheme that was to take the form of the FrameworkConvention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1995, were soon to be met with equal high deception for its innability to bring the international standard setting on the national minority rights forward. And that because the FCNM aligned itself with the other international documents in subsuming national minority rights under the greater umbrella of individual human rights, thus avoiding the real challenge that resides in accommodation national minorities as collectivities. The author further shows that for a policy of democratization to be successful, it must have the willingness to incorporate new ideas of national minority accommodation.
In the case of politics of integration, Malloy shows that the process of European integration moved slowly from social and economic rights and freedoms to political and participation rights. This early integration period was characterized by a desire to create an European entity united by a homogenizing legal framework. The author's criticism are based on the fact that this was an inflexible way of thinking that does not reflect enough the realities of an ever more diverse political entity. Furthermore, this trend was to last until the 90s, when a dichotomy arise between the concepts of 'co-nation' and 'minority', concepts developed simultaneously, one internally for the political integration and the other externally for the enlargement process. Thus, Malloy demonstrates that EU is implementing a model of deliberative democracy, but falls short of designing an ethical model of discursive justice.
In Chapter 9, the author answers the question of why the post-1989 discourse of national minority rights was not successful in changing the view of hegemonic identity of contemporary international law. For this, Malloy makes use of the philosophy of social idealism, which is able to explain why the notions of self-determination and national minority aren't fully apeased by the European international politics.

While "National Minorities in Europe" relates the sensitive issues of national minority rights to a specific region, I believe that the real strength of the book lies in its relevance for the universal strive in finding solutions to a problem that has plagued the end of the last century.
I would recommend Malloy's book to everyone interested in national minority rights and/or those interested in how this issue has been mainstreamed in the European bodies and agencies in their overall policies as well as how it was put in practice at the field level.

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(Weitere Informationen hier)
Transcarpathica. Germanistisches Jahrbuch Rumänien 3-4/2004-2005. Hgg. v. Andrei Corbea-Hoisie u. Alexander Rubel. Bukarest/Bucuresti: Editura Paideia 2008, 336 pp.
[Die online-Fassung meines Einleitungsbeitrags "Thesen zur Bedeutung der Medien für Erinnerungen und Kulturen in Mitteleuropa" findet sich auf Kakanien revisited (Abstract / .pdf).]
Seitenweise. Was das Buch ist. Hgg. v. Thomas Eder, Samo Kobenter u. Peter Plener. Wien: Bundespressedienst 2010, 480 pp.
(Weitere Informationen hier wie da, v.a. auch do. - und die Rezension von Ursula Reber findet sich hier [.pdf].)
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