Emory International Law Review


Natan Lerner


This Essay deals with a controversial issue in the area of group relations in democratic states, namely the place of group rights in democratic societies and the role of legal pluralism theories. Group rights are presently recognized as entitled to, if not a treatment equal to that of individual rights, at least the recognition of some form of legitimacy that justifies respect, consideration, and protection. Underlying such legitimacy is a view that looks to ensuring harmony between, and constructive coexistence of, the different components of democratic societies. This was not always the case with classic international law, which was not interested in the status and rights of groups, whatever their nature. The new approach tended to favor minorities that were more or less distinct from the majority of the respective populations, namely ethnic, religious, cultural, or linguistic groups.