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International Center for Interethnic Relations
and Minorities in South Eastern Europe

Introduction

Human rights, interethnic relations, the position and protection of ethnic minorities are key issues for the stability and future democratic development of South Eastern Europe and of individual countries of this region. S evere economic and social problems that exist in almost all countries of SE Europe, and especially armed conflicts in some parts of the region have escalated problems in interethnic relations. This effected also the position and protection of national and other minorities and the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. As a result, in some cases, the traditional multiethnic nature of these societies was damaged or destroyed resulting in an immanent need (recognized by the International Community) to rehabilitate the multiethnic societies in these environments.

Recognizing the importance of interethnic relations, the adequate situation of national minorities and the promotion of the rights of persons belonging to these minorities for the stability and democracy of individual countries and of the region, the work and activities of the International Center for Interethnic Relations and Minorities in South Eastern Europe (International Center) established at the Institute for Ethnic Studies in Ljubljana shall contribute to the improvement of interethnic relations and promotion of human rights, including the promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. The International Center utilizes the existing infrastructure and potentials of the Institute. The establishment and functioning of this International Center was an important QSP Project of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and its Task Force on Human Rights and Minorities within the Working Table I on Democratization and Human Rights.

The International Center and its activities contribute to the promotion of human rights and improvement of interethnic relations in multiethnic societies in South Eastern Europe, focusing especially on the problems of national minorities and on the promotion of rights of persons belonging to national minorities considering the existing international standards. In this context it focuses on the collection and analysis of relevant literature and documents, cooperation and exchange of scholars and researchers studying ethnic relations and minorities in the region, creation and development an international network of researchers, scholars and research and other relevant institutions, stimulation and development of joint research in ethnic and minority studies in the region and broader. Countries in the region and local governments are encouraged to use research findings for the improvement of their ethnic policies and legislation that can contribute to better ethnic relations and cooperation and to the adequate protection of national minorities. This includes the design and implementation of adequate educational, teaching and training programs and other relevant measures.


Description

As mentioned, the International Center undertakes different activities and projects, including research projects, geared at:
  • the promotion of democracy, protection of minorities and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities;
  • the promotion, realization and development of the existing international and national (legal and political) standards of human rights and for the protection of national and other minorities;
  • the promotion of good interethnic relations, tolerance, coexistence and cooperation in ethnically diverse societies in the region and broader;
  • the promotion and, in societies where it has been damaged or destroyed, rehabilitation of multiethnic societies;
  • the successful regulation and management of ethnic diversity and ethnic relations;
  • the prevention of the escalation of conflicts, especially conflicts formulated and perceived as ethnic conflicts, in multiethnic societies; etc.
In this context it pays special attention to (inter)ethnic relations and to the position and protection of national minorities in the region. Central activities of the International Center focuses on the:
  • collection and analysis of relevant literature, journals and documents in diverse languages, including the languages of the region, on (inter)ethnic relations and the position and protection of national minorities in South Eastern Europe. The database on this literature will be accessible via Internet.
  • international exchange of researchers and scholars from the region and other countries participating in the Stability Pact for SE Europe (such as e.g., three months study visits at the International Center and in the region, scholarships) aimed at the development of ethnic and minority studies of the region and within the region. This could become also an important activity in the process of adequate training and academic development of young researchers and scholars from the region.
  • establishing and developing of the international network of experts, scholars and research institutions on ethnic relations, national and other minorities in SE Europe. This international networking should lead to the development of joint research projects that will be submitted to different potential (public and private) funding agencies. It is expected that this networking will contribute also to the development of different proposals for measures for the promotion of tolerance, ethnic coexistence and cooperation in individual countries and in the regions that will be presented to respective governments and international organizations.
Research, monitoring and other activities geared at the improvement of (inter)ethnic relations in the region could also be carried by the International Center and/or researchers and institutions participating in the international network. These activities will be determined and developed in additional project that will be prepared and proposed by the International Center and/or participating institutions.



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