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Madrid Conference Seeks to Make Minorities Protection Principle Universal Obligation

May 29, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A series of recommendations which, if adopted, will strengthen the principle laid down in some of the International Treaties, following the close of the World War. guaranteeing the rights of national minorities, will be voted upon by the International Conference of the League of Nations Societies Union now in session here.

The Committee on National Minorities problems, under the chairmanship of Sir Willoughby Dickinson, formulated a report with definite recommendations which are to be submitted to the League for action. The burden of the Committee’s argument is that since the protection of national minorities was declared to be of “international concern,” in the treaties, the League ought to make another step in declaring this principle to be a universal obligation, of all governments, members of the League. In addition the procedure for the receipt and consideration of complaints, by minorities, is to be changed and greatly improved.

The Committee faced the question as to whether or not the national minorities treaties constitute a permanent feature in European political life. Some expressed the belief that the minorities treaties were of a temporary nature, as they were intended to operate only until such a date when the minorities might be expected to merge with the nationality of the respective majorities of the countries. Acting on this theory, some of the governments which have signed the treaties, have nonetheless, attempted to accelerate the progress of the denationalization of the minorities by legislative and administrative measures. These methods caused great concern to the respective minorities who attach great importance to their permanent retention of their racial characteristics. They hold that their happiness and well being is not inconsistent with their loyalty to the new allegiance.

The Committee, in its report, declares that though it agrees that it is desirable that the minorities become an intrinsic part of the political and social structure of the State in which they live, it believes that this will be more rapidly obtained rather by a policy of tolerance than by an attempt to force the population into the common mold.

The Committee concludes its report with the following recommendations for improving the procedure of the League of Nations in its dealings with the minorities question:

1. To change the procedure so as to assure the minorities that their complaints will reach the Council of the League of Nations.

2. That the Minorities be granted (Continued on Page 4)

3. That means be created by which the Council of the League of Nations may acquaint itself with the views of the minorities concerning the treatment they receive in the countries where they reside.

The recommendations further suggest that the special obligations toward these racial minorities imposed upon the new and enlarged states be made universal for all members of the League of Nations. Whereas before the War obligatory treaties to this effect existed only in two or three countries, these obligations today prevail with no less than 15 countries. The principle of the protection of the minorities should therefore be extended to all states, members of the League. The main provisions of these treaties should be incorporated into the Covenant of the League.

The Committee further recommends the establishment of a permanent Minorities Commission to be attached to the League. It further suggests to the Conference to adopt a resolution urging the League of Nations to appoint a Committee of experts to examine the entire problem of minorities in Europe as it stands now.

The Committee on Minorities Problems has also formulated a number of resolutions in connection with the legal status of the Staatenlose, and the unemployment prevailing among them.

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