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Justice, Minorities, and Kin-States Research Group

About us

Justice, Minorities, and Kin-States Research Group

Above: Justice, Minorities, and Kin-States Research Group

There are just few instances in which state’s duty trespass its borders. For example, any state has a duty to protect the well-being of its citizens abroad. States also have a duty to intervene in order to protect citizens of other states against human rights’ abuses. However, in the aftermath of the Second World War, it is no longer states’ duty to protect their kin-minority groups abroad, but of the states on the territory of which they live and of International Organisations. In recent years, some European states’ politics towards their kin-minority groups have challenged the current status quo. Towards the end of the 1990s, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Romania, Greece, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Russia, Turkey, and Hungary implemented policies known as Status Laws, which conferred special treatment and/or protection to citizens of neighbouring states who were members of their kin-minority groups. The last such legislation was passed in Poland in autumn 2007. At times, kin-states go even beyond Status Laws to protect their kin-minority groups and engage in military actions, as the conflict of August 2008 in Georgia testifies. Is states’ intervention in the fate of their kin-minority groups legitimate?

Justice, Minorities, and Kin-States is a PhD Student-run research group. Our aim is to engage critically with the challenges raised by the current politics of kin-states. We invite contributions on the following themes for both the monthly seminars run at University College London and the discussions on our mailing list:

  • CONCEPTS: The terms ‘kin-minority’ and ‘kin-state’ are novel. They were introduced by the Venice Commission in ‘Report on the Preferential Treatment of National Minorities by Their Kin-State’ (October 2001). However, alternative terminology exists in the social and political science literature. Do the new terms better clarify and differentiate kin-minority groups from cultural minority ones, and diasporas, on the one hand; and the members of kin-minority groups from citizens, on the other?; What makes a state a kin-state?
  • SOVEREIGNTY: Kin-states claim a duty to protect their co-nationals who are citizens of a third country. Some of the beneficiaries of the kin-state politics live in border regions. In cases such as the Aland Islands or South Tyrol, these regions enjoy a special status. What challenges does kin-states’ politics pose to an international order based on the principle of state sovereignty?
  • SECURITY: The claims of the kin-states can be very contentious especially when they include territorial claims, and dispute the sovereignty over a region. What is the relationship between irredentism and other peaceful forms of kin-states’ politics? In what circumstances are minorities/diasporas used to advance governments’ agendas? How does kin-state activism affect the viability of the host-state?
  • EQUALITY: Particularly, the Status Laws’ transfer of rights and benefits across borders affects the equality balance between the majority and the cultural minority groups, on the one hand, and between cultural minority groups and kin-minority groups, on the other. What are the constraints the equality principle raises to the transfer of rights and benefits across borders?; Does the kin-state’s transfer of rights and benefits contribute to enhance equality in the home-states of kin-minority groups?
  • JUSTICE: Kin-state’s duty towards their kin-minority groups is rooted on two aspects: a. the members of the kin-minority groups share the same culture with that of the majority in their kin-state, and b. historically, they belong to the majority of their kin-state. How do they justify kin-state’s intervention in the fate of her kin-minority groups?; Are kin-states’ policies consistent with any of the dominant accounts of justice?

Contact us

Contact The Justice, Minorities and Kin-States Research Group e-mail:
Andreea UDREA PhD Candidate
UCL School of Public Policy
Dissertation title: ‘Rights Across Borders: A Normative Defence of the Hungarian Status Law’
Katerina MANTOUVALOU PhD Candidate
UCL School of Public Policy
Dissertation title:  ‘Identity, Justice and Stability: A Defence of Democratic Justice for the Muslim Minority of Western Thrace in Greece’
Valentina BURRAI PhD Candidate
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies/ UCL School of Public Policy
Dissertation title : ‘Kin-states and Equality in Croatia’

Mailing list

Justice, Minorities and Kin-States Research Group runs the mailing list ‘Kin-States’ on JISC mail. The mailing list hosts discussions on the papers posted on the web-site or presented during the seminars, on related articles and books; it disseminates legal and political updates; and it circulates information on relevant conferences and seminars.

We invite you to join it at:

Research projects

Related links

Contact us

School of Public Policy,
The Rubin Building,
29/31 Tavistock Square,
London, WC1H 9QU.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4999,
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4978,

Postgraduate enquiries

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4982/4950

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Page last modified on 21 aug 09 09:22

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