9 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 297 (1996)
Two Souls to Struggle with: The Failing Implementation of Hungary's New Minorities Law and Discrimination against Gypsies

handle is hein.journals/hhrj9 and id is 303 raw text is: TWO SOULS TO STRUGGLE WITH ....: THE FAILING IMPLE-
MENTATION OF HUNGARYS NEW MINORITIES LAW AND
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST GYPSIES
Timothy William Waters*
Rachel Guglielmo**
In 1993, Hungary passed Act LXXVII on the Rights of National
and Ethnic Minorities.1 The law as drafted contains some of the most
sweeping and extensive provisions for the protection of minorities
found in domestic European law. Moreover, the law provides a legal
and philosophical rationale for the protection and integration of mi-
norities that is extraordinarily progressive, embodying not only the
basic principles of human rights law, but an expanded conception of
the range of safeguards needed to ensure human rights for national
minorities. The Act codifies a broad and inventive set of minority
rights that are both individual and collective. Minority autonomy is
enshrined as both a collective right of national minorities and an
integral element in constituting the State.
On paper, the law offers a model that could go far in bridging the
gap between the minority, majority and State in multi-ethnic States.
However, the Hungarian government's failure to effectively implement
the ambitious terms of LXXVII/1993 has made the law's promise an
empty one for Hungary's minorities.
The Hungarian government has allowed the implementation of
LXXVII/1993 to founder by viewing the law primarily as an instru-
ment of foreign policy rather than a vehicle for domestic reform. In
passing the law, the Hungarian government sought to pressure Hun-
gary's neighbors to improve the treatment of their substantial Hungar-
ian minorities.2 The Hungarian government hoped its new and gener-
ous policy on minorities would serve as a model for countries with
* B.A., U.C.LA., 1989; M.I.A. candidate, Columbia University School of International and
Public Affairs; J.D. candidate, Harvard Law School, 1998.
** B.A., William and Mary, 1989; M.A.L.D. candidate, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,
1996.
This piece is based on more than 150 interviews conducted in 1995 in 40 towns and villages
throughout Hungary with elected representatives of Gypsy self-governments at both local and
national levels; ethnic Hungarian local officials; human rights activists; journalists; and private
citizens of Hungarian and Gypsy extraction.
We would like to thank the Institute for International Education (11E), the School of Interna-
tional and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and the Gandhi Foundation in Hungary for
supporting this project.
1. See Act LXXVIIJ1993 on the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities [LXXVII/1993]
(1993) (Hung.).
2. Michael R. Geroe & Thomas K. Gump, Hungary and a New Paradigm for the Protection of
Ethnic Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe, 32 CoLuM. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 673, 687-88 (1995).

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