Monday, March 11, 2013

Language and costs

The Harvard International Law Journal has an article, really a series, on the drawbacks of the international language rights situation, which as far as I can tell talks a very big game but which people have avoided implementing due to the high costs. Opinio Juris published one in full, and this passage caught my eye:
When cases bearing on language reach major human rights courts and quasi-judicial institutions, and especially the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), these enforcement institutions do not in fact demand that states accommodate substantive diversity. The UNHRC and the ECtHR are not prepared to force states to swallow the dramatic costs entailed by a true diversity-protecting regime. Although they operate under different doctrinal structures, these two adjudicative bodies reach a similar legal outcome: they consistently allow the state to incentivize assimilation in the public sphere (on fair terms) into the dominant culture and language of the majority.
Both because it seems like a fair balancing act, and because it seems to me that the better approach would be to make that sort of balancing when negotiating the treaty, rather than hoping that ECtHR notices that there's a problem and does something about it. But overall, an interesting look into a world that I don't know very much about.

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