The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Protection of the Economic Rights of Minorities

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  • 1 Independent consultant, United Kingdom. Former Director, Minority Rights Group International and First Vice-President, Advisory Committee for the Framework Convention on Protection of National Minorities.

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  • 1 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Annual Statistics 2002. See http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/statistics.

  • 2 The 35 states are: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithu- ania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slove- nia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Ukraine, United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A further 7 States have signed the Convention: Belgium, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, and the Neth- erlands. 3 Marc Weller, "Creating the Conditions Necessary for the Effective Participation of Persons Belonging to National Minorities", Report for "Filling the Frame" 5th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Strasbourg, 30-31 October 2003, http://www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/minorities/5._5_anniversary/PDF_ Report_participation_Weller-l.pdf. 4 The full text and translations of the Framework Convention can be found on the Council of Europe website www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/minorities.

  • 5 See Articles 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 8 and many others. 6 See Articles 6.1, 7, 9.2, 9.3 and a number of others. 7 The explanatory report is a negotiated text by the Council of Europe and can also be found along with the FCNM text translated into many languages at www,coe.intlT/E/human rights/ minorities. 8 Paragraph 13 of the negotiated explanatory report to the FCNM is explicit on this point.

  • 9 Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved stability of insti- tutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. See the summary at http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/intro/criteria. htm#Accession%20criteria. 10 For general annual reviews of the monitoring process, see Rainer Hofmann, "Review of the Monitoring Process of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of

  • National Minorities", EYMI (2001/2), 435-60; Id., "Review of the Monitoring Process of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities", 2 EYMI (2002/3), 401-34; and the most recent review by Catrin Pekari which appears in this volume. 11 This is the name given to the information that state parties are obliged to submit under Article 25 of FCNM. They are also made public on www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/minorities. 12 Under Article 26,the Advisory Committee evaluates the adequacy of measures taken by the parties and these have been given the appellation "Opinions" and are easily found ordered by state and by article on the CoE website. Opinions are posted once the Committee of Ministers agrees a resolution based on the Advisory Committee's Opinions, although they are sometimes publicized earlier by states. See www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/minorities.

  • 13 Concluded on 7 March 1966, entered into force on 4 January 1969, 660 UNTS 195.

  • 14 Weller, "Creating the Conditions Necessary .... 15 Such reports can often be found through www.coe.int/T/E/human rights/minorities links, under the non-governmental link to the Centre for Documentation and Information in Europe. However, NGOs are not so systematic in submitting these for broader publication on the Inter- net. 16 Weller, "Creating the Conditions Necessary .... 17 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Serbia and Montenegro, adopted 27 November 2003, Article 4, para. 38.

  • 18 Ibid., Article 15, para. 113. 19 Ibid. 20 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Ukraine, adopted 1 March 2002, Article 15, para. 73. 21 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Lithuania, adopted 21 February 2003, Article 4, para. 35. 22 In Visaginas, about 80 per cent of the population is comprised of persons belonging to national minorities, including Armenians, Belarusians, Germans, Poles, Russians, Tatars and Ukrainians.

  • 23 The OSCE action plan on Roma Sinti, November 2004 in para. 87states that participating states must be proactive in ensuring that Roma and Sinti people, like any other inhabitants, have all necessary documents, including birth certificates, identity documents and health insurance cer- tificates. In resolving problems related to the lack of basic documents, participating states are strongly advised to work in partnership with Roma and Sinti civil organizations. See http://www. osce.org/documents/odihr/2003/11/1562 en.pdf. 24 Article 6 encourages parties to promote mutual respect and understanding between persons irre- spective of ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity, particularly in the fields of education, culture and the media. Parties also undertake to protect persons from discrimination or violence due to their ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity. 25 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Azerbaijan, adopted 22 May 2003, Article 4, para. 29. 26 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Serbia and Montenegro, adopted 27 November 2003, Article 4, para. 39.

  • 27 Once an Opinion is formed by the Advisory Committee, state parties are given 4 months to submit comments on the Opinion. These are generally called 'comments' and are published at www.coe.int/T/E/human-rights/minorities. 28 It has become custom and practice for the Committee of Ministers of the CoE to agree a resolu- tion by consensus based on the key elements of the Advisory Committee Opinion. See www.coe. int/`T/E/human_rights/minorities. 29 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Estonia, adopted 14 September 2001, Article 15, para. 59.

  • 30 State Report to the CoE on the implementation of the FCNM from United Kingdom, submit- ted 1 May 1999, paras. 287-8. 31 State Reports to the CoE on the implementation of the FCNM from Norway, submitted 2 March 2001; Sweden , submitted 8 June 2001; Germany, submitted 24 February 2000. 32 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Croatia, adopted 6 April 2001, Article 15, para. 55.

  • 33 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Serbia and Montenegro, adopted 27 November 2003, Article 4, para. 38. 34 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Denmark, adopted 22 September 2000, Article 15, para. 36. 35 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Sweden, adopted 20 February 2003, Article 15, para. 63.

  • 36 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Azerbaijan, adopted 22 May 2003, Article 15, para. 78. 37 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Lithuania, adopted 21 February 2003, Article 4, para. 34. 38 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Ukraine, adopted 1 March 2002, Article 15, para. 74. 39 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Switzerland, adopted 20 February 2003, Article 4, para. 28. 40 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Serbia and Montenegro, adopted 27 November 2003, Article 4, paras. 32, 33 and 40. 41 Ibid., para. 39. The use of the word "informal" describes unregistered settlements often occupied by unregistered families. Often these are called "illegal" settlements by the authorities. The author knows from his own mission to Belgrade in February 2004 the accuracy of these observations. 42 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Lithuania, adopted 21 February 2003, Article 4, para. 36.

  • 43 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Germany, adopted 1 March 2002, Article 5. 44 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Italy, adopted 14 September 2001, Article 4, para. 25. 45 These are often indirect responses through the attachment of documentation on strategies for the integration of Roma as appendices to their comments. See www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/ minorities. 46 The Council of Europe Social Cohesion Directorate has a specialist group on Roma and in May 2003 convened a meeting in Granada, Spain to review these strategies. There was much criticism of the strategies by Roma. 47 See OSCE Action Plan for Roma November 2003 at http://www.osce.org/documents/ odihr/2003/11/1562_en.pdf.

  • 48 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Sweden, adopted 20 February 2003, Article 4, para. 24. 49 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Switzerland, adopted 20 February 2003, Article 4, para. 28. 50 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Lithuania, adopted 21 February 2003, Article 4, para. 33. 51 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Switzerland, adopted 20 February 2003, Article 4, para. 28. 52 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Serbia and Montenegro, adopted 27 November 2003, Article 4, para. 39. 53 A presentation on this issue was made by The International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) at the OSCE Implementation meeting in Warsaw 6-17 October 2003 and it attracted considerable attention. See www.intrac.org.

  • 54 In its Opinion on Serbia and Montenegro, Article 4, para. 39, the Advisory Committee stresses that Roma women - many of whom have only limited information for example on reproductive health issues and who often go through pregnancies without any medical control - are particu- larly exposed to health risks and their situation merits specific emphasis. 55 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Slovakia, adopted 22 September 2000, Article 4, para. 20. 56 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on the United Kingdom, adopted 30 November 2001, Article 4, para. 32. 57 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Azerbaijan, adopted 22 May 2003, Article 4, para. 30.

  • 58 Bozidar Jaksic and Goran Basic, "Romany Settlements, Living Conditions and Possibilities of Integration of the Roma in Serbia - Social Research Results" (ministry of Human and Minority Rights of Serbia and Montenegro/Ethnic Research Centre, 2002) at http://wwweumap.orgl library/datab/Documents/1069680905.51/omi_ENG.doc. 59 Personal conversations with the author during Advisory Committee visits to Slovakia and Roma- nia 2000, Germany 2001 and Albania 2002. 60 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Sweden, adopted 20 February 2000, general remarks, para. 9.

  • 61 This was often the case during visits that are part of the Advisory Committee monitoring pro- cedures. Some states were content not to seek statistical data often stating that minorities would object. 62 See CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinions on Azerbaijan, Lithuania, and Serbia and Montenegro. 63 CoE FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion on Lithuania, adopted 21 February 2003, Article 4, para. 35.

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