This article reviews international developments which took place in 2019 with a focus on economic and social rights of members of European minorities, including the right to education. The developments are reviewed based on the practice of the UN, CoE, as well as EU organizations and their bodies whose activities relate to human rights issues. This review also covers the documents of the said bodies adopted in 2018 yet having remained non- promulgated until 2019.
In a nutshell, probably the most significant developments— in terms not only of the greater number of cases resolved but also of new rules proclaimed— occurred within the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). In particular, the ECtHR used the notion of ‘institutional racism’ in connection with police violence against Roma individuals in the case Lingurar v. Romania. The Court also articulated an extremely limited ratione materiae right to obtaining psychiatric treatment in a minority language in Rooman v. Belgium. Advancements include developments at unesco which adopted the first- ever international treaty on higher education and continued efforts in approximating diversity in education by elaborating on multi- language education.
This article reviews the 2019 international developments related to cultural activities and facilities as well as issues concerning media in the context of European minorities. Among the highlights are the preliminary views delivered by the UN Human Rights Committee concerning the cultural autonomy of the Sami indigenous peoples in Finland in Sanila-Aikio v. Finland and Käkkäläjärvi et al. v. Finland, the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, and the EU Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages. The theme of biand multilingual education is enhanced within UNESCO, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and the EU.
This article provides an overview of European minorities’ language rights in the administration of justice, public administration, and public services in 2019. Relevant legal developments are presented in the activities of the major international organizations, i.e. the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, and the Council of Europe. Since the most relevant treaties on the language rights of minorities in Europe are the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, special attention is paid to the implementation thereof.
Whereas international monitoring mechanisms devoted to the effective protection of minorities are abundant, language rights of national minorities receive less attention, especially in the fields of official language use, that is, in public administration and justice. The regulation of these areas has been traditionally considered as almost exclusively belonging to the states’ competence, and international organizations are consequently reluctant to interfere. As a result, the official use of minority languages differs in the various countries of Europe, with both good practices (e.g. the Netherlands, Spain, Finland) and unbalanced situations (e.g. Estonia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan).
Upon acquisition of independence in 1991, Kazakhstan was the only post- Soviet state where the titular nation did not have an overwhelming majority, the number of Kazakhs being fewer than the number of ethnic Russians. This explains to a certain extent why the Russian language, unlike other minority languages, has, to date, enjoyed a position of lingua franca in Kazakhstan and is used on equal grounds with Kazakh. Our contribution attempts to study the possible impact on the status of the Russian language of a 2017 project known as the ‘trinity of languages’— Kazakh, Russian and English— which includes a reform to Latinize the Kazakh alphabet. It will consider the possible polarization in the society with the younger generation probably choosing English and the older generation preferring the language as they know it.
In 2019, a new law regulating the use of languages other than Macedonian entered into force in North Macedonia. Language issues have always been a hot topic in North Macedonia and one capable of stirring controversial debate, especially between the Albanian- and the Macedonian- speaking population. This is also the case for this most recent piece of legislation. The present article discusses initially the constitutional and political background to the adoption of the law. It then analyses some of the most disputed aspects of the law. Most of them relate to the broader issues of democracy and rule of law as well as the balance with other human rights.