322006 VO Comparative constitutional law and minorities

summer semester 2022 | Last update: 05.02.2024 Place course on memo list
VO Comparative constitutional law and minorities
VO 1

The objective of the course is to illustrate and discuss the role and potential of law, and in particular of Human and Minority Rights, as a means of regulation and stabilization, especially after ethnic conflict.

In particular, students who have passed the exam shall be able to:

- give an account of the debate regarding the definition of “minority” and to delimit it from other groups (such as migrants, indigenous peoples, etc.);

- give an account of the historical evolution in Europe, leading to the Nation-State, and to the consequent marginalization of minority groups;

- illustrate the different constitutional approaches regarding the phenomenon of diversity;

- explain the fundamental rights, procedures and institutional solutions of minority-protection regarding linguistic, political and religious rights, including power-sharing and affirmative action.

Focus of the course is the analysis of the “legal management of diversity” from a comparative perspective, in particular the guarantees for groups and minorities with distinct features in ethno-national, cultural, linguistic and religious terms.

Starting point will be the concepts of “minority”, “difference” and “recognition” as well as Nation-Building processes and agreements ending a conflict. Specific minority rights aim at providing for protection, autonomous development and participation in all affairs concerning members of the respective group. Also, the equality of the members of the groups with other citizens as well as their integration into the wider society needs to be guaranteed without becoming an instrument of assimilation. Today, there is a wide range of legal instruments and sources as well as different actors which contribute to the creation of a “Law of Diversity” by which these requests can be accommodated.


Tentative Programme

Concepts and definitions

1.    Historical evolution of minority-protection in Europe

2.    Definitions: “who is a minority in law?” International and domestic law

3.    New minorities and Indigenous Peoples

Constitutional approaches to diversity

4.    Different approaches in constitutional law

5.    Levels of protection in International and European Law

Simulation (role game): “Poseidonia”

“Special” rights: a “toolbox” for diversity and minority situations

6.    Political participation

7.    Power-Sharing, Affirmative Action and Autonomy

8.    Linguistic and Educational Rights

Case study

9.    Minorities in Italy: Art. 6 Constitution and its implementation


The protection and promotion of minorities will be illustrated in lectures, experienced in a role play (simulation game) and discussed in case-studies in which students can apply their knowledge and deepen their understanding for the different interests at stake.

The course is based upon frontal lectures and discussion in class. Students are expected to critically engage in discussion; active participation is encouraged. In some parts of the course, group work shall be used (role paly – simulation game).

During the course the topics will be introduced and treated also through the analysis of documents, such as legislation, judgments and other useful materials which will be indicated and provided on the website.

The exam shall verify whether the learning goals are effectively reached by individual students.

Students shall prepare a paper based upon the simulation game (role play).

A part of the examination (up to 50%) may be oral, i.e. a conversation regarding the main theoretical and legal concepts as well as cases discussed during the course.

a) in English:

The reading list and other materials (cases) will be published at the beginning of classes on the course website.

b) in Italian (not mandatory):

Palermo, Francesco, Woelk, Jens, Diritto costituzionale comparato dei gruppi e delle minoranze, 3rd edition, Cedam, Padova 2021

Participants are able to follow class in English.

Group 0
Date Time Location
Fri 2022-03-11
08.00 - 12.00 UNO Saal UNO Saal Barrier-free
Thu 2022-03-24
13.00 - 17.00 40901 SR 40901 SR Barrier-free
Fri 2022-04-01
08.00 - 12.00 UNO Saal UNO Saal Barrier-free