Imagine the fictional Republic of Tratatoria is ethnically composed from Barmaliens, Turariens and Gluzariens.

The Minister of Education of the Republic of Tratatoria considers himself as Gluzarien.

He decides to rename the history object in the schoolbooks from "History of Tratatoria" to "History of Gluzariens".

The Ministry translates the books in all ethnic languages.

What legal/international law arguments/precedents could be used to demonstrate that the Ministry is discriminating its own citizens?

Real Case (Moldova)
Please see here

  • 3
    Where cometh this idea that there is a human authority above the nations?
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 16:38
  • nations are human communities, so what other authority should it be?
    – serge
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 17:22
  • Ithink that this alone isn't sufficient to argue discrimination. So far, we don't even know if "History of Barmaliens" and "History of Truratiens" are taught as well. Also, curricula intentionally cover only a selection of the possible topics. (To make a harmless example, school geography in my country picks certain regions to discuss particular village layouts, other regions do not get mentioned). The discussion which topics to drop in favor of which others happens all the time and is inherently political rather than legal. (I'd be temped to say the approach is corrupt, in a political rather Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 17:23
  • ... than legal sense, again.) Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 17:24
  • @Serge: The default state of a nation is to have no human authority above it, but only divine authority. Insisting there is a human authority is imputing something that does not exist.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 17:45

3 Answers 3


If Tratatoria has anti-discrimination laws, or provisions in its constitution forbidding discrimination, the Minister's actions might be illegal under them. But if it does not, or if it does not enforce whatever laws it may have, there is no international authority that can enforce any rule against discrimination.

People and groups in other countries could denounce such actions as biased and discriminatory, if they chose. There is no legal standard for such announcements. This might bring pressure on Tratatoria. But that would be a diplomatic and political matter, not a legal one. There really is no effective international law on discrimination unless it amounts to genocide, and even then it is essentially a matter of diplomatic pressure or potentially war to enforce regime change, not a true legal process.

  • Unless I have misunderstood it, the linked case seems to be an appeal to an internal institution, not to any international body. Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 17:13
  • the appeal is to the internal institution, first of all, as mandatory first step, but the legal arguments are/should including from international law. Suppose the internal institution refuses to recognize the discrimination, the affair should go to the international court(s), that should take into consideration internal and international law and precedents.
    – serge
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 17:56
  • 4
    @Serge Lots of things should happen, but many if not most of those things don't. Pointing out that something violates the law doesn't stop it. The government of Moldova/Tratatoria seems to be quite happy with the way their textbooks are, what could another government/organization do to stop them? Invade? That seems a bit heavy handed, and the invasion itself would be seen as unprovoked aggression by the rest of the international community. Sanctions? Possibly, but that is not something friendly nations tend to do to each other; not and remain friendly. Is a title worth losing an ally?
    – BThompson
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 1:45

There is no blanket international law against all forms of discrimination, so there is no way to make an official determination. It might be possible to do so in a specific case for a particular kind of discrimination, so you have to find what treaties Tratatoria has entered into. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is a good place to look. It defines racial discrimination as

any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life

Tratatoria may have acceded to this treaty without reservations, then it might be enforceable against the government. To find out, first you would have to determine a specific violation. Most likely, this act is not already prohibited by the laws of Tratatoria, and the dispute would be over their failure to create such a law. In that case you would have to officially pursue a resolution with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Art. 11). That however requires that Tratatoria has accepted Art. 14, whereby individuals have standing. There are so many possible escape clauses that Tratatoria is probably not subject to this treaty on this point, but let's continue.

As the complaining party, you would want to look for precedents, many of which are summarized here. This is a long document which you would have to study carefully, and a violation is found in only about a quarter of cases. Some examples of findings of violation are Koptova v. Slovakia where certain villages prohibited residence of Roma people; L.K. v. Netherlands where the government failed to prosecute violation of already-outlawed acts. IMO there is no precedent under this treaty that suggests that the act is illegal, so then you would have to search for a different treaty, if any (e.g. EU law, if Tratatoria is a member).

  • thanks, please see the OP edit, added real case study
    – serge
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 16:58

Considering that there are countries whose laws and constitution treat people of different races differently (see for example Malaysia and Israel) there is no international laws that stops any country from discriminating it's own citizens. The best you can hope for is a UN resolution condemning a country.

Any such laws would also be problematic for any country that is attempting to implement anti-discrimination efforts (see for example affirmative action in USA).

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