The term minority rights embodies two separate concepts: first, normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or sexual minorities, and second, collective rights accorded to minority groups. The term may also apply simply to individual rights of anyone who is not part of a majority decision.
Civil rights movements often seek to ensure that individual rights are not denied on the basis of membership in a minority group, such as global Women's rights and global LGBT rights movements, or the various racial minority rights movements around the world (such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)).
Minority rights in national and international law 
The first minority rights were proclaimed and enacted by the revolutionary Parliament of Hungary in July 1849. Minority rights were codified in Austrian law in 1867. Minority rights, as applying to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples, are an integral part of international human rights law. Like children's rights, women's rights and refugee rights, minority rights are a legal framework designed to ensure that a specific group which is in a vulnerable, disadvantaged or marginalised position in society, is able to achieve equality and is protected from persecution. The first post-war international treaty to protect minorities, designed to protect them from the greatest threat to their existence, was the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Subsequent human rights standards that codify minority rights include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 27), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, two Council of Europe treaties (the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Copenhagen Document of 1990.
Minority rights cover protection of existence, protection from discrimination and persecution, protection and promotion of identity, and participation in political life. For the rights of LGBT people, The Yogyakarta Principles have been approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council and for the rights of persons with disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by United Nations General Assembly.
To protect minority rights, many countries have specific laws and/or commissions or ombudsman institutions (for example the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minorities Rights).
While initially, the United Nations treated indigenous peoples as a sub-category of minorities, there is an expanding body of international law specifically devoted to them, in particular Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (adopted 14 September 2007).
In 2008 a declaration on LGBT rights was presented in the UN General Assembly, and in 2011 a LGBT rights resolution was passed in the United Nations Human Rights Council (See LGBT rights at the United Nations).
National minorities in the law of the EC/EU 
The direct role of the European Union (and also the law of the EU/EC) in the area of protection of national minorities is still very limited (likewise the general protection of human rights). The EU has relied on general international law and a European regional system of international law (based on the Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, etc.) and in a case of necessity accepted their norms. But the “de-economisation of European integration”, which started in the 1990s, is changing this situation. The political relevance of national minorities' protection is very high. Now (2009) although a protection of the national minorities has not become a generally accepted legally binding principle of the EU, in several legal acts issues of national minorities are mentioned. In external relations protection of national minorities became one of the main criteria for cooperation with the EU or accession.
See also 
|Rights by claimant|
|Other groups of rights|
- Affirmative action
- Civil rights
- Ethnic group
- Ethnic war
- European Centre for Minority Issues
- Global Human Rights Defence
- Human rights
- LGBT rights in the United States
- Marek Edelman
- Minority religion
- Minority Rights Group International
- National personal autonomy
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Social stratification
- Teaching for social justice
- Tyranny of the majority
- The Yogyakarta Principles
- Barzilai, G. 2003. Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Henrard, K. 2000. Devising an Adequate System of Minority Protection: Individual Human Rights, Minority Rights, and the Right to Self-Determination. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers
- Jackson Preece, J. 2005. Minority Rights: Between Diversity and Community. Cambridge: Polity Press
- Malloy, T.H. 2005. National Minority Rights in Europe. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
- Pentassuglia, G. 2002. Minorities in international law : an introductory study. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publications
- Šmihula, D. 2008. "National Minorities in the Law of the EC/EU", in Romanian Journal of European Affairs, Vol. 8 no. 3, pp. 2008, pp.51-81.
- Thornberry, P. 1991. International Law and the Rights of Minorities. Oxford: Clarendon Press
- Weller, M. (ed.) 2006. The Rights of Minorities in Europe: A Commentary on the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
- Weller, M., Denika Blacklock and Katherine Nobbs (eds.) 2008. The Protection of Minorities in the Wider Europe. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Gabriel N. Toggenburg, Minority Protection and the European Union, OSI, Budapest 2004
- Gabriel N. Toggenburg / Günther Rautz, Das ABC des Minderheitenschutz in Europa, Böhlau, Wien 2010
- Gabriel N. Toggenburg, The Union's role vis-a-vis its minorities after the enlargement decade: a remaining shre or a new part?, European University Institute, Florence 2006
- Laszlo Peter, Martyn C. Rady, Peter A. Sherwood: Lajos Kossuth sas word ...:papers delivered on the occasion of the bicentenary of Kossuth's birth (page 101)
- Staatsgrundgesetz vom 21. Dezember 1867 (R.G.Bl. 142/1867), über die allgemeinen Rechte der Staatsbürger für die im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder — see Article 19(German)
- Homepage of the Parliamentary Commissioner
- Daniel Šmihula (2008). National Minorities in the Law of the EC/EU in Romanian Journal of European Affairs, Vol. 8 no. 3, Sep. 2008, pp.51-81. 
- U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Minorities
- Commentary to the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, United Nations Working Group on Minorities
- U.N. Independent Expert on Minority Issues
- U.N. Forum on Minority Issues, its recommendations
- U.N. Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
- Minority Rights Group International
- Minority rights implemented at grassroot level
- OSCE Copenhagen Document 1990
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Hague recommendations regarding the education rights of national minorities & explanatory note
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Oslo recommendation regarding the linguistic rights of national minorities
- Congress of the Council of Europe Recommendation 222 (2007) Language Education in Regional or Minority Languages
- Compilation of reports and opinions concerning the protection of national minorities Venice Commission
- Documents submitted to the Working Group on Minorities that was replaced by the Forum on Minority Issues, established by Human Rights Council resolution 6/15