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Who are minorities?

Last edited: December 20, 2011

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Minorities include groups who (Capotorti, 1977; Deschênes, 1985):

  • Are less in number to the rest of the population of a state;
  • Are in a non-dominant position ;
  • Reside in the state, being either nationals or a group with close long-standing ties to the state;
  • Possess ethnic, religious, or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population; and
  • Show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity directed towards preserving their distinctive collective identity.

Generally minority groups are recognized to include national, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious minorities, as well as some migrants, refugees, and indigenous and tribal peoples. It is also important to consider that minorities are likely to be discriminated against or marginalized, and they may develop increased group loyalty as a result of discriminatory and marginalized relations with the state.

See the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues.

See additional information on minority issues from the United Nations.

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