CyberDodo fights for the rights of minorities (2-23)
Article 30 specifically refers to minorities under these terms: ‘A child belonging to an ethnic minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language’.
But firstly, what is a minority?
It is a small group of people in a much bigger group - let’s take a concrete albeit neutral example: Swiss people of Italian descent only represent about 6.5% of the total Helvetic population, while Swiss people of German descent constitute more than 63%.
This example is relevant, as it helps us to easily understand what a minority is, but at the same time it is deceptive because obviously it is not a problem, neither is it dangerous to speak Italian in Switzerland. However, the concept of minority rights is complex and often much more sensitive than this example that we have given.
Out of all the possible or desirable responses, the concept of minority rights makes a specific distinction between groups of people and the particular status granted to the smallest group of people. This is why the different conventions on human rights recognise 1) equality between people as a basic principle (See article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights) 2)
The will of the people and their expression during free elections is the foundation of public authority (See article 21/3 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights), in other words, the majority decides.
How can we then justify that minorities should benefit from specific advantages?
This issue is often raised by those who refuse to implement article 30 of the Convention on Children’s Rights and is actually biased, since the respect for minority rights does not imply any specific advantages, but simply the possibility of being able to live according to the customs of their particular group.
That is, being able to speak their own language, practice their religion, live according to their culture, etc...
Rights and Duties
As always, the Convention lists the rights that are guaranteed to people, which at the same time consists of their duties towards others. Here, the status granted to minorities implies that the majority should have the same status, because respect for members of minority groups equally applies to everyone else, since majority groups have these rights too.
Indeed, it is often one of the main difficulties encountered by minorities (ethnic minorities, for example), the majority group does not understand the desire of the minority to conserve their traditions and live in harmony with them. The majority wrongly interprets this desire as a refusal to integrate.
CyberDodo’s take on article 30 of the International Convention on Children’s Rights is that it talks about ‘living together’, respecting each and every member of a community. His vision is that as a human society everything that makes us unique (History, family, language, traditions, etc.) enriches the whole group, and individual differences create a more interesting whole, with more potential than a group of identical people would have.
This approach towards human relationships which values diversity is regularly disputed by those that support “integration at all costs”, who would prefer to dissolve the minorities in the group in order to do away with differences that exist.
But the right of minorities is reiterated in the articles of the Convention on freedom of expression, beliefs, opinions, association, etc. which highlights that everything that a human being is made of should be respected, and more particularly if it is a child.
In other words, and being the devil’s advocate here, was it truly useful to devote an article on minorities although all the rights it talks about are already guaranteed individually?
Of course, our answer to this question is ‘yes’, because when groups of people suffer or risk suffering from the same abuses, it is more than legitimate to reinforce their protection.
The right of minorities and article 30 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child speak of human diversity and the blending of populations which have enriched society over time.
Certain people describe the planet as a ‘global village’, contact between people increases, distances are reduced, we are in an interaction with more and more people. Equally, the preservation of biodiversity, the respect for all forms of culture, is fundamental for our future.
The Czech ‘philosophical president’, Vaclav Havel, has summarised it in this way:
Rights should be identical for people of different races, of different tribes, they should be the same for both sexes and for different religions.
According to CyberDodo:
‘United in our differences, united by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child»
The importance of preserving our cultural heritage has been recognised by the United Nations, which made the 21st May the “World day for cultural diversity, dialogue and development’.
To see the cartoon on the rights of minorities, click here
For the game, click here
For the quiz, click here
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