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United Nations Body Adopts Definition of National Minorities

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A definition of national minorities who should get United Nations protection was adopted here by the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. The definition, approved by 10 votes against two–Soviet Union and Poland–stipulates:

“A. The term minority includes only those non-dominant groups in a population which possess and wish to preserve stable ethnic, religious, or linguistic traditions or characteristics markedly different from those of the rest of the population; B. Such minorities should properly include a number of persons sufficient by themselves to preserve such characteristics; C. Such minorities must be loyal to the state of which they are nationals.”

At a meeting of the Commission on Human Rights, Dr. Gerhard Jacoby, representative of the World Jewish Congress, pointed out that the definition of minorities for purposes of protection by the world organization restricted such protection to minorities with considerable numbers of people. Very small groups must also be given aid and legal protection, Dr. Jacoby told the Commission. He pointed to the fact that recent large-scale immigration has reduced the Jewish population of Iraq from 120,000 two years ago to 15,000-20,000 today; the Jewish population of Syria from 40,000 twenty years ago to 6,000 today; and the Jewish minority of Libya from 30,000 four years ago to 8,000 today.

The W.J.C. representative also challenged the portion of the definition which required “loyalty” to the state as a criterion for the right to protection. “It would flout every sense of justice,” Dr. Jacoby said, if the United Nations should recognize that the members of a minority who are driven to despair by acts of persecution and therefore appeal, for instance, to the United Nations or request help from foreign organizations, have thereby lost the right to protection. Under a blanket clause of “loyalty” such acts could be considered by the government concerned as warranting forfeiture of the right to enjoy the status of a member of a recognized minority, Dr. Jacoby said.

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