The Programme on Protection of Minority Rights


Over the last couple of years, CRG has done extensive research on Minority Rights. As one of its parts, the Eurasia-net project has attempted to explore the conditions of minority rights in South Asia and Europe in a trans-national perspective and to make advocacy for new policies.

Concept Note of the ‘Eurasia Net Project on Regional Instruments for Protection of Minority Rights’  

Ø        Attempt towards enhancing regional cooperation - Human rights, and especially minority rights, have a clear supranational dimension both in Europe and in South Asia. Europe has made wide use of the mechanisms and soft law approaches developed and implemented at regional level by the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union. In South Asia there is a long tradition of study and robust experience in the field of cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic management including the gender dimension, within national boundaries (India in particular). However, it is only recently that some limited attempts have been made to enhance regional cooperation on these very sensitive issues. Studies carried out by South Asian scholars have created the knowledge base, underlying the first rudimentary attempts by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the foresight initiatives of human rights activists and NGOs. Furthermore, the geopolitical context is now particularly favourable to a supra-national discourse on human and minority rights as a consequence of recently improved relations between India and Pakistan. In addition, the process of including human rights and particularly minority rights in the regional South Asian agenda deserves the attention of the European research community. Their involvement will contribute to the development of EU and Member State (MS) policies that are supportive of this process and that will eventually contribute to regional stability and effective EU-South Asia cooperation. Scientific cooperation on the issues of supra-national mechanisms for human and minority rights would therefore be extremely topical and of strategic value for European and South Asian relations. To lose momentum would mean missing an opportunity for Europe to fully exercise its role as a global player in the area of regional mechanisms for human and minority rights protection – a field in which European experience is by far the longest and most elaborated in the world. The overall objective of EURASIA-Net was therefore to enhance the requisite knowledge-base for new policies and instruments to reduce ethnic-religious conflicts and to foster stability and security in South Asia. Achievements in this area are likely to create a favourable environment for cooperation with Europe and to contribute to repositioning Europe as a pro-active political interlocutor.   

Ø       South Asia has a global perspective - The importance of South Asia in a global perspective has increased manifold. In demographic terms, the region is home to over one-fifth of the world population, fragmented in a mosaic of ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic groups. Within South Asia, India is one of the most dynamic engines of the world economy with a growth rate that is second only to China and a major EU commercial and economic partner. At the same time, intra and inter-state conflicts and tensions, such as in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, are serious impediments to a lasting stability in the region. The significant anarchy in many areas has created a vacuum, which has attracted the evil forces of terrorism and is a permanent threat to global peace and security worldwide. The almost totality of the conflicts has their roots in a mismanagement of ethnic and religious relations at local level which immediately has a consequence at state and/or at a supra-state level. This is due to the fact that often we have a minority community in a state which is in a majoritarian position in a neighboring country. The state of war and confrontation has created the conditions for large scale human and minority rights violations and the state of insecurity and fear have generated massive migration flows within South Asian and other regions. South Asia is presently the largest provider of immigrants and asylum-seekers to Europe. The United Kingdom provides a striking illustration of the migratory patterns from South Asia. British Asians constitute over 4% of the total population of the United Kingdom. In 2004, 27% (one in every four) of Londoners were either born in South Asia or have one of their parents with a South Asian origin. Other large communities of South Asian immigrants and refugees are present in Germany, France and Italy.   

Ø       Specific Objectives – basing on the analysis of this situation, the specific objectives identified under the programme were, to develop a better understanding of regional South Asian attempts to define and implement new supranational instruments for the protection and promotion of human rights, with a particular focus on cross-border minority issues, to sustain Euro-Asiatic research cooperation and exchange on those issues and to enlarge the discussion forum to encompass politicians and human rights activists and to create a framework for future research cooperation between Europe and South Asia that contains a twofold task: (a)developing a Joint Research Agenda and (b) a modus operandi based on mutual knowledge and understanding. 

The List of Institutions Involved in the Research Programme

 Sl. No

Name of the Institution

Short name



Accademia Europea per la ricerca applicata ed il perfezionamento professionale – Bolzano/Bozen




Brunel University – West London.




Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität – Frankfurt am Main




Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group




South Asian Forum for Human Rights




Democratic Commission of Human Development




University of Dhaka



EURASIA-Net’s contribution to the coordination of high quality research is provided, on one hand, by the participation of distinguished scholars and the most representative institutions at the regional level; and on the other, by the composition of the consortium as a whole. The project has mobilized the most active researchers on this topic in Europe and South Asia, and has gathered them in a consortium that has been supported and assisted by a group of project Associates. The key features that enabled EURASIA-Net consortium to enhance effective coordination of research were :

  Focus on a specific topic - The interest of researchers involved specifically on the topic of the regionalization of human and minority rights facilitates the organisation of effective and structured cooperation. Broad topics could result in the dispersion of resources and be less effective in aggregating researchers. In our case, scholars such as Prof. Javaid Rehman, Prof. Joseph Marko, Prof. Rainer Hofmann, Prof. Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Prof. Sonia Dayan Herzbrun, Dr. Günther Rautz, Mr. Tapan Bose, Mr. Kamran Arif, Ms. Tanveer Jahan, Dr. Ranabir Samaddar, Prof. Samir Kumar Das and Dr. Paula Banerjee, although coming from different disciplines, share a common interest in studying the regional dimension of human and minority rights protection and promotion in Europe and South Asia.

 From national experiences to regional coordination- The specific competences and interests of our partners and associates have been exercised mainly in a national or bilateral context, and the task then is to combine the resources of five Member States and four South Asian countries to coordinate efforts on a topic in which European supra-national experience is remarkable.

 There is a clear interest from both parties (Europe and South Asia) in the contents of the project. On the one hand, South Asian researchers and civil society  institutions clearly perceive the benefit of stronger regional integration as an important issue for the development of the region (and Europe is seen by many as a significant case study); on the other hand, European scholars and European decision makers have a clear interest in understanding the pattern of changes in South Asia and, as far as possible, in becoming useful partners in the policy debates and processes of regional integration.

 Strong support and involvement of the most representative regional international organizations- The project has been discussed among, and has taken into full account the input given by experts and officials from the Council of Europe, and in particular from the Secretariat of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Secretariat is Associate to EURASIA-Net and has formally expressed its will to engage in exchange and dialogue with South Asian colleagues. On the Asian side, our natural interlocutor is the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, where the European Union has recently acquired the status of observer. The project and its modus operandi have been discussed with the Human Resource Centre of SAARC, and having received the full support of the Director – Mr Khan – are now at the attention of the Secretary General of SAARC with a view to formalise the association of the organisation with EURASIA-Net. In addition, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed its appreciation for the initiative, and is willing to provide support.

 Finally, we would like to highlight the role that EURASIA-Net has accorded to civil society and in particular to South Asian NGOs, both at the conceptual level for their role in the creation of new knowledge in this field, and at the operational level through their active involvement in our consortium.  

CRG’s Responsibilities 

CRG is responsible for coordinating Trans Regional Platform in the policies and instruments for the promotion of Human Rights and management of Minority Issues. Under this task CRG would do the following things: 

1. It carried out a special programme of media sensitization for the promotion of human rights and undertook the significance of existing democratic values in South Asian societies towards protection of minorities. 

2. MCRG authored a scientific research work on human rights with emphasis on protection of minorities so that it could be used in higher educational institutions. This book would be in both print and CD form.  

3. There was the need to create a platform between Europe and South Asia involving experts and stakeholders with a view to promoting, disseminating and sustaining research in the field of regional cooperation and trans-regional cooperation of Human Rights and Minority Rights.  Such a platform would serve the following purposes:  

3.1 A joint study of appropriate South Asian and European situation on these themes on a select basis.  

3.2 A study of how the Paris principles on the basis of which the National Human Rights Commission and the Minority Commissions etc. have been set up or are being implemented in relevant cases of Europe and South Asia.  

3.3 This platform also undertook and sustained research on two or three key themes namely, the functioning of Rule of Law, Principles of Autonomy and obligation to International Legal Principles of Human Rights.  

4. Internet platform has also been created for diffusion of all the material on website.

It was also decided that MCRG would organize a final conference which would bring together the outcome of all these activities towards formulating recommendations for future course of work.  

The project focused primarily on Research through various exchange programmes, for instance, study visits, training sessions, summer schools on the one hand and on the other hand, implementation through dialogues, review meetings and publications. For details of the background of work leading to the final conference, Click here