This paper deals with intemational minority rights and their meaning as an identity resource fr ethnic minorities. It asks why small national groups, such as the Sami and the Sorbs, have not vanished, as was prophesied by modemisation theorists. In fact, the opposite has occurred. In Europe, small national minority groups are now clearly gaining more opportunities to invent their own "national" policies. After a short introduction that provides some general background, 1discuss some common definitions of minority rights and the specific meaning of 'minority identity' used in this paper. Then, 1 show how minority rights and minority identities are linked to each other, and why and how intemational minority protection treaties have become a part of the everyday vocabulary of Sami, Sorb and many other national movements. The examples 1 use originate mostly from my field studies with the Sorbs in Eastem Germany and the Sami in Northem Finland. 1 argue that not only the image of the group projected to its members is influenced by these treaties, but that the definition of the group itself is also changed.