The 1878 Treaty of Berlin sought to address the issue of minority rights in order to stabilize the interests of the Great Powers and the international order; however, in their formulation of a treaty intended to save the imperial component of the system, the European imperial powers not only gave one of their official acknowledgments to nationalist principles, but articulated a critique of the existing notion of state protection for ethnic minorities. This tentative but landmark modification of the imperial model of legitimacy suggested Europe or the world could consist of a host of sovereign nations. In so doing, it recognized the political, and ideological changes that nationalism demanded, changes that would reshape how national groups organize politically, culturally, and militarily. The logic of nationalism demanded that new boundaries, conceived on national lines be drawn, and they were drawn, both within the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The Treaty of Berlin led to the formation of Greater Bulgaria and Albania, and these new nationalities formed a initial answer to the European question of minority groups. The Treaty of Berlin is useful to examine in relation to its better-known and much more radical offspring, the Treaty of Versailles. Differences in the approach of either treaty provide a study in the lasting effects of soft power to resolve international conflict. The Great Powers met in Berlin to address a developing crisis in an attempt to avoid a destabilizing regional conflict through diplomatic and legal means, whereas the Paris Peace Conference met at Versailles to develop new order across Europe in the wake of the Great War. The Treaty of Versailles, sharply chiding the Central Powers as it promulgated a victor's peace, hoped to prevent future war by placing economic burdens on Germany. While the conference at Paris acknowledged the minority position, the overwhelming legal focus went to addressing developing nations and nationalisms in a way that was consistent with the beliefs of old imperial rule. The earlier Treaty of Berlin's relative emphasis on minority questions as logically antecedent to the disposition of nationalism becomes of highest significance in retrospect. It is this focused approach to addressing developing nationalism that makes the Treaty of Berlin an important point of discussion. It provides a precedent for how questions of minority rights should be addressed, and where it falls short of an answer on how conflict might be prevented, it explores how the tensions within the international system can exacerbate one another, as they did in the breakdown of diplomacy and law that to the First World War . This thesis aims to address how the triumph of nationalism as a model of state legitimacy almost immediately gave rise to the question of legal protection of minorities. The minority question only became more urgent as nationalists developed policies that practiced first passive, and then active exclusion of minority groups. While nationalism's relation to democratic rule seemed to solve the problems of representative government, it quickly forced the question of how legitimate representation was determined. Shifting notions of political legitimacy, unworkable empires, and heightened international rivalry formed a widening spiral of crisis that eclipsed the minority question, but this thesis supports the belief that the centrifugal force of conflict came out of the avoidance of addressing minority rights completely. Attempts were made through the twentieth century to mitigate conflict between people groups, but many failed to produce fully developed solutions, while many others favored the status quo, seemingly hoping that the question would answer itself. A study of the early history of the minority rights question helps us understand the national question in the old-new light of the international order and questions of international law. Given the conflicts that have arisen out of the relations between nations and the question of minority rights, the minority question is present in much of today's thinking about human rights and the maintenance of international order. Understanding the origins of minority rights and the factors considered in the early negotiations set to address the problem helps develop a deeper understanding of the of the interactions between nations and people today.