There are number of studies dealing with national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the topic of their cultural rights is commonly neglected. They focus on political, civil, social and economic rights, considering their implementation more important for the achievement of equality of citizens belonging to national minorities. In general, the position of national minorities is seen as that of the oppressed subjects claiming the realisation of the rights they are entitled to. Therefore, this research is aimed at investigating how national minority communities are treated by authorities with regard to preservation of their cultural autonomy and how they position themselves in terms of self-identification and claims for their rights, particularly cultural ones. This specific context is also useful in addressing a wider theoretical question: what the meaning of the right to collective cultural identity for these national minorities is. These two aims were pursued through a double methodology, involving both the analysis of the documents and reports dealing with these topics in Bosnia and Herzegovina and interviews conducted with some local experts and members of national minorities who offered their visions over the topics of self-identification, enjoyment of cultural rights and characteristics of the communities they belong to. The findings show that, although formally the Bosnian and Herzegovinian legal framework grants a remarkably high level of protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, its actual implementation is limited to sporadic and incoherent initiatives. That leads to increased inequality in the treatment of different minorities who de facto get very divergent forms of recognition and support by the authorities. This differentiation can be explained both in terms of ability to gain visibility in the eyes of the decision-makers and to position on the social ladder, where national minority communities having established organisations and professionalism and those being part of the elites or blatantly discriminated against, have a better position to be heard and get results. Finally, it follows that the right to cultural identity has a meaning only if it is additional to the universal individual human rights, if it is used as a strengthening tool for minorities having a weaker position in society and when the exigence of such protection is widely felt by members of the community, and not only used by its representatives as a political instrument for gaining visibility and a (small) place in the division of power.

Protection of cultural rights and identities of national minorities: the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina / G. Agostoni - In: Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe: Selected Master Theses 2019-2020 / T. Kohvakka, Á. Campos Fernández, E. Latić, G. Agostoni ; [a cura di] M. Borraccetti, A. Mujkić. - Prima edizione. - Sarajevo : ERMA/Global Campus South East Europe, 2021. - pp. 309-401

Protection of cultural rights and identities of national minorities: the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

G. Agostoni
2021

Abstract

There are number of studies dealing with national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the topic of their cultural rights is commonly neglected. They focus on political, civil, social and economic rights, considering their implementation more important for the achievement of equality of citizens belonging to national minorities. In general, the position of national minorities is seen as that of the oppressed subjects claiming the realisation of the rights they are entitled to. Therefore, this research is aimed at investigating how national minority communities are treated by authorities with regard to preservation of their cultural autonomy and how they position themselves in terms of self-identification and claims for their rights, particularly cultural ones. This specific context is also useful in addressing a wider theoretical question: what the meaning of the right to collective cultural identity for these national minorities is. These two aims were pursued through a double methodology, involving both the analysis of the documents and reports dealing with these topics in Bosnia and Herzegovina and interviews conducted with some local experts and members of national minorities who offered their visions over the topics of self-identification, enjoyment of cultural rights and characteristics of the communities they belong to. The findings show that, although formally the Bosnian and Herzegovinian legal framework grants a remarkably high level of protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, its actual implementation is limited to sporadic and incoherent initiatives. That leads to increased inequality in the treatment of different minorities who de facto get very divergent forms of recognition and support by the authorities. This differentiation can be explained both in terms of ability to gain visibility in the eyes of the decision-makers and to position on the social ladder, where national minority communities having established organisations and professionalism and those being part of the elites or blatantly discriminated against, have a better position to be heard and get results. Finally, it follows that the right to cultural identity has a meaning only if it is additional to the universal individual human rights, if it is used as a strengthening tool for minorities having a weaker position in society and when the exigence of such protection is widely felt by members of the community, and not only used by its representatives as a political instrument for gaining visibility and a (small) place in the division of power.
cultural rights; minority rights; Bosnia and Herzegovina; minority languages; identity
Settore IUS/20 - Filosofia del Diritto
Settore M-GGR/02 - Geografia Economico-Politica
Settore IUS/13 - Diritto Internazionale
https://www.academia.edu/50124014/European_Regional_Masters_Programme_in_Democracy_and_Human_Rights_in_South_East_Europe_Selected_Master_Theses_2019_2020
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/865385
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