Open Access

National Minority: The Emergence of the Concept in the Habsburg and International Legal Thought


This paper critically analyses how the term ‘minority’ was conceptualized in the Habsburg and international political and legal thought from the nineteenth century until the Minority Treaties after the First World War. We argue that the phrase ‘national minority’ was absent from the legal language up to 1918. Our paper guides the reader through the various traditions and their interwar interpretations that shaped the emergence of the new concept of ‘minority’. The analysis of parliamentary discourses within the Habsburg Empire shows how old and new meanings coexisted in 1918.