Conflict Prevention through societal integration - Insights into the work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities

Published: 24 October 2018

Public Lecture November 2018

Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
13 November 2018

As the nature of crisis and conflict in the OSCE area has fundamentally changed in the post-Cold War era, national minorities have increasingly become victims of geopolitics. In some cases, tensions between different groups within States have risen, sometimes spilling over to neighbouring countries. Many of these tensions stem from a poor management of diversity and shortcomings in social integration. With this in mind, back in 1992, OSCE Heads of State and Government established the post of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, to address ethnic tensions and to prevent inter-State crises or conflicts over national minority issues.

Over the years, from its headquarters in The Hague, its role has evolved from an early warning tripwire to long term, structural conflict prevention. In particular, successive High Commissioners have focused on assisting countries in devising sound policies to guarantee minorities’ access to education and justice, to ensure their participation in public life and, more generally, to promote balanced integration of diverse societies.

In his talk, High Commissioner Zannier provided some interesting insights on his mandate and work methods. Drawing from examples of majority-minority relations with conflict potential in the OSCE area, he illustrated how he operationalises conflict prevention in his daily work with a view to containing or de-escalating tensions, as well as the tools he uses to assist States in addressing structural minority-majority issues that have the potential to generate conflict.

This event was organised by the College of Social Sciences and Policy Scotland and was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council under IAA Grant Number ES/M500471/1.

Lecture podcast available here


First published: 24 October 2018