Mixed Commission for Upper Silesia

by Dr Michel Erpelding

This paper was first published as ‘MPILux Working Paper 5 (2017)’. The full and final text is now available online as an entry of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law, published by OUP at www.mpeipro.com.

Introduction: This entry addresses the Upper Silesian Mixed Commission, also known as the Mixed Commission for Upper Silesia. This quasi-judicial body was established for a transitional period of 15 years as part of the 1922 German-Polish Convention relating to the partition of Upper Silesia, an area that was both highly industrialized and ethnically diverse. Now largely forgotten, the Upper Silesian Mixed Commission-and in particular its president, Felix Calonder-provided what was arguably the most sophisticated mechanism for the protection of minority rights during the interwar period, even resulting in the temporary suspension of anti-Jewish legislation in German Upper Silesia between 1934 and the end of the transitional period in 1937. Moreover, the opinions of the president of the Mixed Commission, which were published in two volumes after the Commission's cessation of activity, are very likely the most coherent body of international case law regarding the protection of individual and collective rights before the advent of present-day international human rights courts and treaty bodies.