National Minority Questions and the Cold War Human Rights Regime (1945–1989)
After 1945, national minority rights lost their hitherto independent standing in international relations and were subsumed within the newly created universal human rights regime. The failure of the League of Nations discredited national minority rights and the minorities themselves tended to be viewed with suspicion owing to the wartime complicity of certain national minority leaders with Nazi aims in Central and Eastern Europe — though it should also be pointed out that these aims cleverly exploited national minority fears and aspirations within the region. Consequently, unlike in previous eras, national minority rights were considered contrary to international peace and security. The inter-war system of national minority guarantees was not resurrected and no new national minority rights provisions were included in the various agreements of the 1940s and 1950s which laid the foundations of the Cold War human rights regime. This chapter examines the various political calculations and normative assumptions which underlay the Cold War universal human rights regime that gave such short shrift to the particular problems of national minorities.
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