The following arguments illustrate the importance of minority rights:
1. Minority rights and the principle of equality: Minorities are often in a disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable position. Consequently, they require special measures to ensure that they benefit from the same rights as the rest of the population. Hence, minority rights serve to bring all members of society to a balanced enjoyment of their human rights. In other words, their aim is to ensure that persons belonging to a national minority enjoy effective equality with those persons belonging to the majority. In this context, the promotion of equal opportunities in access to education at all levels for people belonging to a national minority is particularly important, since education brings valuable development benefits, empowers communities and promotes the exercise of individual freedoms.
2. Minority rights strengthen inter-ethnic relations: The protection of minority rights is an exercise of tolerance and intercultural dialogue. By encouraging mutual respect and understanding, the different groups that comprise a society should be able to engage and cooperate with one another, while preserving their own identity. The basic elements required for the realisation of this goal are to promote knowledge of minorities’ culture, history, language and religion in an intercultural perspective. In other words, the protection of minority rights can promote an inclusive, peaceful and cohesive society, with respect for diversity.
3. Minority rights’ impact on conflict prevention and resolution: Inter-ethnic tensions, divisions and exclusion that remain unaddressed can easily become a source of instability and conflict. Dealing efficiently with minority-majority relations in the aftermath of ethnic conflict is central to achieving a durable peace. In this regard, the protection of national minorities is not only fundamental to enhance social cohesion in diverse societies, but also essential to achieve democratic security, sustainable development and peace in a context of instability.
4. Minority rights protect and promote a diverse and prosperous society: All societies in the modern world are multi-ethnic and multi-national. Ethnic diversity can enrich a society as it makes it more attractive, competitive and prosperous. As such, it is important to create a climate of tolerance and inter-ethnic dialogue, not only to achieve peace and stability, but to enable cultural diversity to be a factor of enrichment and social strength.
5. Minority rights as an essential element of the international human rights legal framework:States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights, including minority rights. Minority rights, considered under the International Human Rights framework, are universal, inalienable, independent and indivisible. States, being the principal actors of the international community, have the legal and moral obligation to defend such standards.
6. Minority rights are European standards: European history has shown that the protection of national minorities is essential to stability, democratic security and peace in the continent. The European Union (EU) promotes and insists upon respect for human and minority rights amongst its current and prospective members.
National minorities are entitled to and should be able to maintain and develop their culture and identity. Accordingly, minority rights aim to ensure that disadvantaged minorities maintain ‘their rightful place in society’.