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Original scientific paper

The International Basis of the Position of Croats in Hungary

Budislav Vukas ; Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Full text: croatian pdf 2.599 Kb

page 433-443

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The disappearance of fictional post-war unity and harmony in countries of East Europe has dramatically indicated a large number of practically unsolvable problems in multiethnic societies in this part of our continent. At the time of the last great alteration of the political map of Europe – after the First World War – the possibility of consequently carrying out the principle of self-determination of peoples and creating national states, stimulated the victorious great powers to impose, in this part of Europe (and in some neighbouring states), an international system of protection for ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, under the auspices of the League of Nations. Although it was itself subjugated to this system (by the Trianon peace treaty), due to a large number of Magyars in neighbouring countries, Hungary was among the few countries that advocated for a renewal of the pre-war system within the framework of the United Nations. However, the new international organisation concerned itself primarily with human rights and the abolishment of discrimination, feeling that this was enough for the protection of the special rights of members of minorities. Nevertheless, the body of special rights in international law, which provides protection for minorities, has gradually grown. All these general rules were obligatory both for Hungary and Yugoslavia, and were applied to both the Croatian minority in Hungary and Magyars in Yugoslavia. Among international treaties, the most significant was the International Pact concerning Citizen and Political Rights, but also the conventions adopted by some specialised institutions (UNESCO, the International Labour Organisation). There are attempts to modify existing norms of international customary law in a special Declaration of the rights of minorities, which is – on the basis of a Yugoslav draft – being formulated by the Commission for Human Rights of the United Nations (the first reading of the draft was in March 1990). For Croats in Hungary (and Magyars in Yugoslavia) bilateral relations and agreements between the two countries are especially important, above all programmes regarding their scientific, educational and cultural co-operation, in which many documents concern especially members of minorities. At a time of disturbing interethnic confrontations in the countries of East and South Europe, the European continent is expressing an ever more united intent to prevent violation of human rights – including rights of minorities and their members. The Vienna meeting of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe implemented an effective mechanism of monitoring the respect of human rights, whereas a new and encouraging step can be seen in the wish of Yugoslavia and Hungary to enter the European Council – a regional organisation with a forty-year tradition of effective international legal control in upholding the respect of citizen and political rights.


minority; Croats; Hungary; United Nations

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