Nation states are often unable to take into consideration the pluricultural and pluri-ethnic reality of their populations. A fictitious cultural unity usually results in the marginalization of large portions of the population, which find themselves in a minority position with regard to the spheres of political and economic decision-making, although together they may constitute the demographic majority in the country. These "minorities" are usually characterized by a culture and an identity that has been formed through a continuing process of ethnogenesis.
No system in history has been able to guarantee the rights of minorities. In many countries they are not allowed to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.