Prior to the Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920), the term “minority” referred primarily to political parties in national parliaments, not to ethnic, national, linguistic or religious groups.  The Paris Conference is credited with shaping and highlighting the concept of minority rights.  Get advice from as many people as possible, including a pre-law counsellor, academic counsellor, minority affairs counsellor and practising lawyer. To protect minority rights, many countries have specific laws and/or commissions or ombudsmen (e.g. the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities).  Minority rights, as they apply to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and Indigenous peoples, are an integral part of international human rights law. Like children`s rights, women`s rights and refugee rights, minority rights provide a legal framework designed to ensure that a particular group in situations of vulnerability, disadvantage or marginalization in society can achieve equality and is protected from persecution. The first post-war international treaty for the protection of minorities, which aimed to protect them from the greatest threat to their existence, was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In accordance with the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee, other elements relating to the question of who is a member of a minority can be summarized as follows: The following human rights standards that codify the rights of minorities include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 27), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic Groups, religious and linguistic minorities, two Council of Europe treaties (Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages) and the 1990 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Copenhagen Document.
The first minority rights were proclaimed and promulgated by the revolutionary parliament of Hungary in July 1849.  Minority rights were codified in Austrian law in 1867.  Russia was particularly active in protecting Orthodox Christians and Slavic peoples under the control of the Ottoman Empire.  However, the Russian government tolerated vicious pogroms against Jews in their villages. Russia has been widely attacked for this policy.  In contrast, there was little or no international outrage over the treatment of other minorities, such as the black population of the southern United States before the 1950s, when African colonies became independent.  At the Versailles Peace Conference, the Supreme Council created the Committee on New States and Protection of Minorities. All new successor States were forced to sign treaties on minority rights as a precondition for diplomatic recognition.
It was agreed that the new States had been recognized, but had not been “created” before the signing of the final peace treaties. The issue of German and Polish rights was controversial because Polish rights in Germany, unlike the German minority in Poland, remained unprotected. Like other principles adopted by the League of Nations, treaties on minorities were part of Wilson`s idealistic approach to international relations; Like the League of Nations itself, minority treaties were increasingly ignored by the respective governments, with the entire system largely collapsing in the late 1930s. Despite the political failure, they remained the basis of international law. After the Second World War, the legal basis was incorporated into the Charter of the United Nations and a large number of international human rights treaties.  Before World War I, only three European countries declared the rights of ethnic minorities and passed laws to protect minorities: the first was Hungary (1849 and 1868), the second was Austria (1867) and the third was Belgium (1898). In the period before the 1st World War, the legal systems of other European countries did not allow the use of European minority languages in primary schools, cultural institutions, public administration offices and courts.  The lack of consistency in understanding what constitutes a minority is a recurring stumbling block to the full and effective realization of minority human rights. Different UN agencies may contradict each other because they consider different groups of people to be a minority – and exclude some people as “non-members of a real minority” for different, sometimes ad hoc, reasons. States Members of the United Nations may sometimes be reluctant to address minority issues because of uncertainty about who is a minority and what that means.
In some countries, it may even be assumed that the absence of a “definition” means that it is up to each State to freely determine who is a minority and who is not. In most of these situations, uncertainty leads to restrictive approaches: in many situations, people are considered “unworthy” because they are not “traditional” minorities, citizens or not sufficiently “dominated”. The end result is that some minorities are excluded because they are not the “right type” of the minority after different parties. In order to overcome these difficulties and promote the full and effective realization of the human rights of minorities, the Special Rapporteur has proposed the above definition of minority. This approach applies to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and is presented only for United Nations activities. It does not affect what constitutes a minority in relation to the internal affairs of a State or to the term, which may also have other connotations or include other criteria for other international or regional organizations. It is based primarily on the background and formulation of the concept of minority within the meaning of article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the jurisprudential views of the Human Rights Committee and its general comment No. 27.