Statement concerning the aims and the work of the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ETHNIC-GROUP RIGHTS AND REGIONALISM
The rise and intensification of ethnic groups conflicts on almost all continents is an increasingly apparent phenomenon of our time. Neither the four decades of polarization between East and West during their struggle over hegemony nor the ideological, social and economic confrontations in the present era of upheaval, nor the antithesis between North and South on the global level have proven capable of repressing a problem which is rooted in the historically-conditioned group existence of mankind. In view of the worldwide aspirations to liberty, independence and self-determination as well as to participation and genuine partnership among free and equal individuals and groups, solutions belonging to 19th-century Europe such as the "nation state" and the purely mechanical principle of "majority rule" appear increasingly inadequate. The will to self-determination, to be the master of one's own fate, and to achieve emancipation from traditional power structures, no longer respects the borders drawn by majority peoples or established states. This is all the more evident since there is hardly an individual nation state left which is still capable of solving the great issues of the time solely on its own initiative, thereby retaining its status as the sole object of reference for its population.
Only 9% of the states in the world today are ethnically homo-geneous. In all the others, majorities and minorities differing in varying degrees in their ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and/or racial composition must live together. The result is a global potential for conflict which not only in and of itself endangers the stability of considerable segments of the present framework of states through-out the world. It also calls their very legitimacy into question and opens the door to exploitation by interested powers. Nationality con-flicts thus provide the wherewithal and the inducement for outside intervention. They provide the fuel and the justification for proxy wars and the motivation for amassing armaments. Lacking the means of arriving at an adequate solution, they give rise to the sort of downward spiral of deprivations of rights, terror and retaliation which, on all continents in 20th century, has led and continues to lead to the expulsion of entire ethnic groups and thus to genocide. Often enough, such expulsions are accelerated and exploited by third parties and have in many instances already achieved such dimen-sions as to threaten international peace.
To date, very few states have devoted appropriate attention to this problem either on the level of the nation state or in the form of bilateral agreements with neighboring states. Nor is the situation any better with regard to international law. The shift in emphasis from the (in any case inadequate) protection of minority rights to that of indivi-dual human rights misses the real issue. Even when applied most scrupulously, individual human rights, which up to now have formed the focal point of international discussion, can neither shield the individual from discrimination in everyday reality based on his membership in a group structured differently than the majority, nor the group as such from being deprived of space in which to live and develop. Only since the so-called Capotorti Report (E/CN.4/Sub.2/ 384) has the United Nations promoted the project of a "Declaration of Minority Rights" which would assist governments in applying the provisions of Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. One can hardly assume, however, that a mere declaration in the form of a recommendation to the member states will fundamentally alter a conflict potential that is becoming increa-singly acute. In the meantime, practically every approach undertaken on the national level has run aground over the failure to arrive at an agreed definition of exactly what constitutes a "minority" or "ethnic group".
A real remedy can presumable only be achieved in the form of exemplary and generous solutions which, if realized in one or the other of the crisis regions (be it in Europe, the Near or Middle East, Asia or Africa), would radiate inspiration on the basis of their success in averting generally recognized dangers.
It is the view of those associated with the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ETHNIC GROUP RIGHTS AND REGIONALISM (INTEREG) that in developing principles of nationality rights (ethnic group rights) and of regional autonomy and self-determination, instruments can be created to defuse conflicts and secure peace, thus thwarting the incitement and exploitation of such crises by third parties. Without bias towards the ideologies or the powerful interests which tend to distribute sympathies and antipathies according to criteria often unrelated to the issues at hand, INTEREG strives to approach such problems from a legal understanding which is not oriented to sheer numbers and established power structures, but instead proceeds qualitatively from the intrinsic rights of every historically developed human group and the free development of regions, both of which are preconditions for a genuine partici-pation of individuals in the governance of their fate. We are con-vinced that regionalistic structures do not imply the dismemberment of the nation state but, to the contrary, would open the way for the requisite large-scale cooperation in macro-regional and continental entities which hitherto has been more often impeded than realized.
On the basis of these convictions and principles, INTEREG, in cooperation with all institutions pursuing like or similar goals and particularly in close contact with directly affected ethnic groups, seeks to lay the foundation for approaches leading out of the sphere of short-sighted interest-based politics, offering the public a new understanding and making research findings and objective information available to those responsible for making concrete decisions.