A number of central rights are universal (or near-universal) individual rights, such as the right to freedom of expression or the voting rights of adult citizens. However, most liberal states, including Norway, also recognize certain rights that are not individual rights. Minority rights are group rights established with the purpose of addressing some of the disadvantages that cultural minority groups and their members face. "Cultural minority rights" is here used in a very broad sense and includes the rights of indigenous people as well as linguistic, religious and sexual minorities. An example of a cultural group right is the right of the Sami Parliament of Norway (Sametinget) to appoint half the members of the board of Finnmarkseiendommen that governs the use of land in Finnmark. Another example is the right to make exemptions from laws that regulate opening hours on the basis of religious holidays. The purpose of minority rights is usually to level the playing field for majority and minority citizens, where levelling the playing field is conceptualised within the framework of the nation-state. The main aim of Globalising Minority Rights is to explore this framework for minority rights and its limitations in the light of globalisation processes, for example mass migration and the challenges for this poses for nation-states. The project seeks to develop a cosmopolitan approach to minority rights. Among other things, this involves rethinking of the very notion of a minority, which, generally, is defined relative to the population of a given state and not relative to some global baseline. Also, such an approach will shift the focus from equality of opportunity among citizens to equality of opportunity among world citizens. Finally, a cosmopolitan approach will emphasize the supplementary role of international institutions in relation to the enforcement of minority rights.
The GMR project has, during its research period 2016-2021, produced a number of quantifiable results, incl. 37 peer reviewed articles in academic journals, 17 book chapters in anthologies, 2 PhD theses (one defended Dec 2020, other currently in assessment), five monographs and three special journal issues. In addition, the research group has made its work know in international workshops and conferences, public talks, newspaper articles etc.
In terms of the findings of the project, GMR has produced knowledge both on the more foundational questions on minority rights, as well as on the mechanisms and modes of minority protections in the global arena. For example, the project has provided important new knowledge on the scope of the arguments for and against affirmative action, showing how many of these arguments rest on empirical assumptions, still to be investigated by the social sciences (Lippert-Rasmussen). The project has also found grounds for a human rights based expansion of rights to relocation for climate change refugees (Duarte), and shown how typical conflicts of rights between indigenous people and the so-called majority population could be solved justly in ways that affirm the equal status of indigenous people with the equal status of members of the majority population (Reibold). Issues related minority rights in the developing world have been investigated by e.g. Føllesdal (recommending a number of institutions to generate trust and support federalism in an Ethiopian context) and Abumere (recommending a way of boosting co-operation between African states), and the fairness of current migration policies has been addressed by Egan. Egan's findings concern both how skill-based migration affects global equality of opportunity and how it affects citizens in recipient states for good and bad. A relatively large portion of GMR results have engaged with a variety of normative questions relating to refugees, including more foundational questions about the ethics of the international refugee regime, different types of admission/relocation policies, as well as states' special obligations to certain refugee minorities (e.g. LGBT) by e.g. Parekh, Lenard, Vitikainen, Lippert-Rasmussen and Lægaard. Specifically, Parekh's work has forcefully shown how the framework of rescue fails to adequate describe and address the existing refugee regime and state's obligations to refugees; Vitikainen's work has provided moral grounds for prioritizing certain specifically vulnerable groups (such as LGBT) in refugee admissions, while Lenard has carefully distinguished arguments for and against private citizen-based schemes for refugee selection, also showing why the most common objection to such schemes are unsound.
In terms of the outcomes and impacts of the project, the project achievements include:
- 37 peer-reviewed articles in international journals, and 17 articles/book chapters in anthologies
- One PhD (Kerstin Reibold) and one submitted PhD (Magnus Egan)
- One international conference (Tromsø June 2018) was held, whereas the other was cancelled in the last minute due to the pandemic (Boston March 2020). Close to 20 workshops.
- Five monographs: Handbook to Philosophy of Discrimination (Routledge, 2017); Refugees and the Ethics of Forced Displacement (Routledge, 2017); Relating to One Another Equals (CUP, 2018); Understanding Affirmative action (OUP, 2020), No Refuge: Ethics and the Global Refugee Crisis (OUP, 2020)
- Three special journal issues in: Journal of Global Ethics (2016); Ethicsa & Global Politics (2020) and Journal of Applied Philosophy (2020)
Minority rights are group-specific rights that aim to rectify disadvantages encountered by minority cultural groups or their members, where the term *cultural* is used as a short hand for describing quite a variety of minority groups. These include, for example, the self-governance rights of the Indigenous Peoples (e.g., the Sami), religious exemptions (e.g., from Sunday closing regulations), and assistance rights (e.g., interpretation services in public offices). Traditionally, minority rights aim to level the playing field so that everyone - including minorities and minority members - has equal (or at least not too unequal) rights and opportunities in the state in which they live.
This project develops a new, cosmopolitan approach to minority rights. This includes the construction of a cosmopolitan theory of which groups count as minorities (e.g., in certain contexts it is important that our concept of a minority accommodates the fact of soft borders); cosmopolitan rationales and justifications for minority claims (e.g., equality of opportunity based arguments look different whether they have statist or global scope); as well as normative analyses of the super-state institutional mechanisms for implementing such rights (e.g., the role of international courts). The normative framework of the project is applied to three case studies that focus both on the role and status of particular minorities (incl. indigenous, ethnic, cultural), and to the existing and proposed institutional mechanisms for minority protection at various levels.
The project should be seen on the background of the traditional approaches, where minority rights are assessed within the context of a Westphalian, state-based order. Hence, minorities are defined in relation to the cultural majority of that society, and the liberal state is viewed as primarily responsible for minority protection.