Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Following the breakup of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, attention focused on developing international norms, agreements and regimes for effective minority protection. Under the auspices of United Nations and regional organizations, multilateral and bilateral treaties and declarations have been adopted. These documents recognize that diverse initiatives are necessary to reduce ethnic conflict and encourage States to implement appropriate initiatives. Reliance upon bilateral agreements is particularly encouraged in those situations involving protection of minorities in a situation where ethnic minorities reside in States adjacent to or near their country of nationality as a result of change of boarders or the disintegration of the country of origin.

After analyzing the feasibility of bilateral agreements and comparing a number of international and regional agreements dealing with minority protection, including the DeGasperi-Gruber Agreement adopted by Italy and Austria, the author concludes that bilateral agreements can be an effective mechanism to deal with the issues of minority protection. While minority conflicts continue to escalate, the bilateral treaty approach appears to be under-utilized and should be further explored.