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   Course Title    International Protection of Human Rights and National Minorities in Armenia
Lecturer    Harutyun Aleksanyan
Institution    David Anhackt Humanitarian University
Country    Armenia

The Main Objectives and Goals:

This course has four goals:

First, it will introduce students about history, culture, traditions, language of national minorities in Armenia, in general and each national community separately. (Lectures from 1-6)

Second, it will analyze ethnopolitical situation in Armenia after the independence ( September 1991), the problems and their causes concerning the national minorities of Armenia at present. (Lectures from 7-10)

Third, it will introduce students about decisions and other events of International Organizations in protecting the rights of national minorities.( Lectures from 11-13)

Fourth, it will teach students the possible ways how to apply international experience and how to extend guarantees of protecting the rights of national minorities in Armenia. ( Lecture 14)


Requirements of the Course:

The course will have an final examination at the scheduled time. Students also will write a research paper( approximately 12 pages, 25% of the final grade) . Attendance in a discussion section and meetings with the representatives of national minorities is mandatory. Students will grade on their participation in section and meetings ( 15% of the final grade).

Week 1

February 1: Course Design, Requirements, Introduction.


The last events in Kosovo obviously showed that protecting the rights of national minorities has become one of the most serious and pressing issues in Europe today. Ethnic and racial tensions, simmering over the years, have resurfaced, often in acute form and even as armed conflict. The problem of national minorities on a larger scale exists in the Soviet Union since the formation of USSR. After the disintegration of the USSR numerous interethnic conflicts arose in Transcaucasia region ( Nagorny - Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia) in which Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were involved. The unstable and unsafe situation in all Transcaucasia region causes several problems on protecting right of national minorities.

Week 2

February 8 : National Minorities in Armenia(An Historical Review).


February 15: The Assyrians, Kurds , Yesids of Armenia in present.


February 22: The Russian Community in Armenia (The Russian Societies "Rossia"and "ODA"

The Molokans.


February 29: The Greek, Jewish and Georgian Communities in Armenia.


March 7 : The Poles, the Ukrainians, the Caucasian Germans and the representatives of Central Asian and Baltic nationalities in Armenia.

According to official data in 1996 in the Republic of Armenia are living 3,763,000 people from which 97% are Armenians, 3% national minorities. Presently in Armenia, side by side with the indigenous population-Armenians, live representatives of more than twenty nationalities; Assyrians, Georgians, Germans, Greeks, Jews, Kurds, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Yezids as well as representatives of Central Asian, Baltic and other nationalities. The largest of them are Kurds, Yezids and Russians.

Armenia is a multinational state where for centuries have lived different peoples- some of them since antiquity, some others having emerged at a relatively later period, in the 18-th and 19-th centuries. After the disintegration of the USSR, an amazing process of awakening of national minorities started. This was manifest in their increased interest to the mother tongue, history, culture, and religion. In December 1994 the Union of Nationalities of Armenia was founded whose tasks are facilitating the resolution of problems of each national Community within one Union, and to serve link connecting the State structures with public and cultural organizations.

Required readings:

Aikakan Sovetakan Hanragitaran (Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia) in Armenian, Yerevan, 1974

Volume 1 , p.p. 105-114

  • Louis Snyder - " Encyclopedia of Nationalism", 1990, p.p. 16-19, 236-239
  • N. Hovhannisyan, V.Chatoev, A. Kosyan- editors -"Nationalities of Armenia", 1999, Yerevan,p.p. 11-16, 26-118

Recommended readings:

Ernest Gellner- "Encounters with Nationalism" , 1994, p.p. 1-46 Roger Brubaker-" Nationalism Reframed" , 1996 ,p.p.23-55


March 14: Ethnopolitical Situation in Armenia.


March 21: Migration Problem.


March 28: Participation of National Minorities in State Structures.


April 4 : The Problem of Preservation of the National Identity.


After the disintegration of the USSR and formation of the independent Armenian State-the Republic of Armenia- the public-political and social-economic structures in the country have undergone changes. This exerted an immediate influence on the ethnopolitical situation in Armenia. A number of new , previously unknown problems sprang up whose quick solution will support the interests of democracy and building civil society, the interests of stability, peace and cooperation among the nationalities. The largest of them are:

  1. the migration problem;
  2. participation of national minorities in state structures;
  3. the problem of preservation of the national identity;

The migration problem

The initial wave of migration process, being chiefly an outcome of political factors, involved Armenians, Azebaijanis and Moslem Kurds after February 20, 1988 when hundreds of thousands of Armenians demonstrated in Yerevan, demanding to be reunited with Nagorny

Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian enclave in Soviet Azerbaijan and after pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, afterwards -in Baku, Gyanja and other towns of Azerbaijan .As a result of this, about 500.000 Armenians was compelled to flee Azerbaijan. About 304.000 of them found asylum in Armenia. These events had sharply aggravated the political situation in

Armenia, and about 165. 000Azerbaijanis, including the Moslem Kurds living there left the country. Furthermore, following the Georgian-Abkaazian conflict, into Armenia fled refugees from Abkhazia. At present their number nearly reaches 6000. After this the demographic picture of Armenia changed sharply. Soon afterward, the migration movement involved other ethnic groups, too, most of the Russians, then the Molokans, Greeks, Germans ,Jews Ukrainians, to some extent -the Yezides and others. Today, the peak of migration process seems past but some of major cases of it, like the difficult social-economic situation in the country, unstable and unsafe situation in Armenia and all of Trancaucasia, the problems connected with national identity still existing.

Participation of National Minorities in State Structures

First of all, this applies to the representation of the national minorities in the legislative body of the country- the National Assembly of RA. The seats of the deputies in the National Assembly are, surprisingly, occupied by Armenians only. Formerly, in the Soviet times, among the deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR there were Russians, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Jews, Ukrainians, etc. It is also necessary to employ representatives of the national minorities in the legal , governmental and local administration structures. Eventually, in our opinion it is strange that in Armenia there is not a single State structure, responsible for the problems of national minorities.

The problem of preservation of the National Identity

The national minorities are greatly concerned with the problem of preserving their national individuality, their language, culture , traditions , habits that constitute the essence of national identity as such. The problem has become crucial since the beginning of 1990s, when substantial changes were under way in the internal life of Armenia. The spheres of language and education did not remain intact. The new approaches had had a particular strong impact on the status of the Russian language. Since the beginning of 1990s, however, after the adoption of the "Law on Language" by the Parliament of Armenia in 1993, in Armenia , like in all the other Republics of the former Soviet Union, the language of the indigenous peoples -Armenians recognized the only official language and, accordingly, the entire clerical work in the state, scientific, cultural , educational and other offices was directed to be conducted in the

Armenian language.

Of course, under the new circumstances, the national minorities have a better command of the Armenian language then before, and this is for their own interests, since knowledge of Armenian provides them wider opportunities to be employed in economic, scientific and cultural spheres. The problem is that above mentioned alterations should have been introduced thoughtfully, taking care of the established traditions.

Required readings:

Nora Dudwick -"Political Transformation in Post Communist Armenia. Images and Realities"-

Conflict, Cleavage and Change in Central Asia and Caucasus, 1997, p.p.69-109

  • N. Hovhannisyan, V.Chatoev, A. Kosyan-editors-"Nationalities of Armenia", 1999, p.p.17-25
  • Peter Rutland -"Democracy and Nationalism in Armenia"Europe/ Asia Studies ,1994, p.p.45-379

Recommended readings:

Anthony D. Smith- " National Identity", 1991,227 p. Will Kumlicka--"Multicultural Citizenship", 1995, p.p. 107-131


April 11 : International Protection of Human Rights and National Minorities.


April 18: The United Nation, The Council of Europe, The European Union and Protection of the Rights of the National Minorities.


April 25 : The European Convention of Human Rights. Minority Rights in Western and Eastern Europe.


The protection of rights of national minorities is under auspices of the United Nations, The Council of Europe, The European Union. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 November 1994 and entered into force on 1February 1998. Under the framework convention, States Parties are to undertake programs making use of legislation and appropriate governmental policies at a national level, in order to reach defined objectives. The Committee of Ministers will monitor, with assistance of an advisory committee, the programs and measures adopted by States Parties, through a mechanism of periodic reports. Some of the principles covered under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: non- discrimination, promotion of effective equality, promotion and preservation of culture , religion, language and traditions, freedom of assembly, association, expression, thought, conscience and religion. As a counterpart of the Framework Convention, is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, adopted by the Committee of Ministers in June 1992 and entered into force on 1 March 1998.

The main objective of the Charter is the protection of languages- it does not create rights for linguistic groups or their individual members. The Charter recognizes the right to use regional or minority languages in private and public life by laying down objectives and principles to be respected by states. The Charter proposes concrete measures to put these objectives into effect in the fields of education, courts of law, administrative authorities and public services, the media, culture, economic and social life .The Charter foresees a mechanism of monitoring its application by the Parties. After having examined these reports, the Committee of Experts shall prepare a report for the Committee of

Ministers of the Council of Europe, with proposals for the preparation for the recommendations of the latter body to one or more Parties as may required. With regards to human and minority rights EU members accept standards, which were developed within the Council of Europe (See Silvo Devetak , "The Right to be Different, The European Law on Protection of Minorities" 1999, pp.120-135). Co-operation concerning minorities is included also in the Pact of Stability in Europe adopted by 52 representatives of states members of OSCE at the conference held on 20-21 March 1995 in Paris.

Required readings:

Silvo Devetak -" The Right to be Different , The European Law on Protection of Minorities."

1999, p.p. 120-135

  • Klaus Schumann -" The Role of Council of Europe"- Minority Rights in Europe, 1994, p.p.87-98
  • Patrick Thornberry-"International and European Standards of Minority Rights"-Minority Rights in Europe,1994, p.p.14-22
  • Richard Dalton-"The Role of CSCE" - Minority Rights in Europe, 1994, 99-112

Recommended readings

Alan Phillips and Alan Rosas -editors-"Universal Minority Rights" , 1995, p.p. 123-164 Philip Alston-"The United Nations and Human Rights",1992, p.p. 219-264. R.J. Vincent - " Human Rights and International Relations" , 1987, 111-119


May 2 : The Extension of Guarantees of Minority Rights in Armenia


According above mentioned we visualize the extension of guaranties of protection of the rights of the national minorities in Armenia as follows:

  1. To adopt the Law on National Minorities to legally determine the status and to guarantee their right in compliance with International norms.
  2. In the Law of Elections , to ensure the representation of the national minorities in the National Assembly of Armenia, allotting them 2-3 deputy seats. As is known , the national minorities currently are not represented in National Assembly of Armenia.
  3. To involve the national minorities into the State, Government, Legal structures, into the local Administrations.
  4. To ensure that the State promotes the development of education in national languages, of culture of the national minorities of Armenia, as well as of the preservation of their national identity.
  5. To create favorable conditions for the furthering the mass media of the national minorities. To consider it expedient to allot time on National TV to programs about the national minorities.
  6. To establish a Council on Nationality Issues - a consultative body affiliated to President, involving in its work representatives of the national minorities give the Union of Nationalities an appropriate facility for the Cultural Center.
  7. In the State budget to envisage funding for the advancement of the education system and culture of the national minorities.
  8. To set up a Regional NGO's network on the issues of national minorities.

Required readings:

N. Hovhannisyan, V. Chatoev, A.Kosyan-" Nationalities of Armenia", 1999, p.p.119-120 Anthony H. Birch-" Nationalism & National Integration" 1989, p.p. 36-63

Recommended readings:

  • Jennifer Jackson Preece -" National Minorities and the European Nation-States System", 1998 p.p.30-52

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