Group rights

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In moral and legal philosophy, group rights ( Jura consortii ) are subjective rights whose legal entity is a group as such.

Conceptual distinctions

Unlike individual rights it is not so in the legal entity is a person , but to one (of whatever type) collective . Group rights are also to be distinguished from so-called collective rights or “collective rights”, which can only be exercised collectively, but whose legal holders are still individuals. Rights that are associated with membership in a club or an institution (e.g. the right to use a sports facility) or with a population group (e.g. the right to vote in a certain constituency, or the rights of tenants or workers) typically designed as individual rights and thus do not fall into the category of group rights.


Different legal systems contain rights whose holder is a group. Examples are "peoples", "indigenous peoples", "minorities". In international law , the right of peoples to self-determination, anchored in the UN Charter (Art. 1, Paragraph 2) and in Art. 1 of the two international human rights pacts, is particularly worth mentioning. In addition, certain rights of indigenous peoples are recognized as group rights. Overall, it can be stated that the legal subject is quite unclear and changeable. This is also a typical starting point for criticizing group rights.

Philosophical Criticism

Group rights are controversial in philosophical literature. In part, the criticism is directed against individual examples of group rights, such as the right of peoples to self-determination, but the concept as such is questioned far more often. From the liberal side, the concept is often seen as an attack on individualism and group rights are understood as a threat to individual rights. Liberal criticism of group rights is particularly pronounced when they claim human rights quality. In this case, the protection of individuals by human rights against the power of the state (a collective) is called into question again by the alleged equivalent protection of a collective. However, group rights also often represent a protection for disadvantaged groups within a state against its overwhelming power. It is questionable whether this question can be answered in general.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b See P. Jones, Human Rights, Group Rights, and Peoples' Rights, 21 Human Rights Quarterly (1999), p. 80.
  2. P. Jones (2010), "Cultures, Group Rights, and Group-Differentiated Rights", in: M. Dimova-Cookson and PMR Stirk (eds.), Multiculturalism and Moral Conflict (Routledge Innovations in Political Theory, vol. 35 , Routledge, New York), pp. 38-57, especially 39 ff. ISBN 0-415-46615-6
  3. See P. Alston (ed.), Peoples' Rights (The Collected Courses of the Academy of European Law, vol. IX / 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2002) ISBN 0-19-924365-4 ; and J. Crawford (ed.), The Rights of Peoples (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1988). ISBN 0-19-825624-8
  4. See SJ Anaya, Indigenous Peoples in International Law (2nd edn., Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004). ISBN 019517349X
  5. The international protection of minorities is largely individualistic. For the European context, see R. Hofmann (1997): Minority Rights: Individual or Group Rights? A Comparative View on European Legal Systems. In: German Yearbook of International Law 40, pp. 356–382.
  6. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights .
  7. Cf. for example Art. 6 Paragraph 1, Art. 8 Paragraph 2 and Art. 14 of the ILO Convention No. 169 .
  8. Bisaz, Corsin (2012), The Concept of Group Rights in International Law. Groups as Contested Right-Holders, Subjects and Legal Persons (The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights Library, vol. 41, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden / Boston), p. 7-12. ISBN 978-9004-22870-2
  9. The entry "Group Rights" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a useful overview, see [1] .