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24 - Slovakia: The Right of a Nation

from PART II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2017

Tomáš Gábriš
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of Legal History, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovak Republic.
Mária Patakyová
Affiliation:
Professor of Civil Law, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

When searching for the first fundamental rights documents in Slovakian history we must admit that these emerged relatively late in comparison with other European countries — in the mid-nineteenth century. Additionally, they are marked by a specific feature of being aimed at collective rights rather than individual rights. Individual rights (mostly political ones) were only to serve the execution of the most important fundamental right — the right of a nation to equality, which has later turned into the right of a nation to self-determination. This was the main goal strived at by the small nations of Central Europe, and in case of Slovakia, it took almost two centuries until the right to self-determination of the Slovakian nation was fully executed. That is what makes this right of special interest in Slovakia, and hopefully of importance also for the purposes of this book.

At the very beginning of our treatment of the documents related to Slovakia, we must note that we shall not discuss one sole document, but rather a series of documents, which are additionally mostly of political rather than of legal nature. This was caused by the fact that Slovakia did not have any independent legislature until recently. The Slovak Republic is one of the youngest states on the map of Europe, gaining its independence only on 1 January 1993. The history of fundamental rights in the territory of Slovakia before 1993 is therefore strongly linked to the history of the Hungarian Kingdom (until 1918) and Czechoslovakia (until 1992). Still, Slovak national leaders independently authored several political declarations and projects in the nineteenth century (mainly in 1848, 1849, and 1861), specifically aimed at the rights of the nation, hand in hand with requests for individual political rights. The fact that these were political declarations rather than laws was perhaps the reason why these documents of the nineteenth century were more radical than the reforms introduced by the actual laws of the conservative multi-national Hungarian Kingdom.

The idea of a nation being a legal person, carrying specific collective fundamental rights, is the main feature of all these documents.

Type
Chapter
Information
First Fundamental Rights Documents in Europe
Commemorating 800 Years of Magna Carta
, pp. 309 - 328
Publisher: Intersentia
Print publication year: 2015

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