The Activities of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities: July 2003 ― June 2004

In: European Yearbook of Minority Issues Online
Author: Sally Holt 1
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  • 1 Sally Holt is research fellow at the Centre for International Cooperation and Security, Universty of Bradford. From 2000 to 2004 she was Legal Officer at the Office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by the High Commissioner or the OSCE.

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  • 1 See, for example, Michael Ignatieff, "Foreword", in Walter Kemp (ed.), QuietDiplomacy in Action: The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (The Hague, 2001). 2 See further below under Section II.B. 3 Rolf Ekeus, "International Conflict and Majorities", Lecture at the Schweizerische Institut fur Auslandsforschung, Universitat Zurich, 2 July 2003, at http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/ speeches/2003/. 4 Annual Report on OSCE Activities, 2003,140.

  • 5 "Situation of Human Rights in Turkmenistan", UN Commission on Human Rights resolution 2003/11, adopted 16 April 2003 at its fifty-ninth session, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2004/118, referring to the report of the OSCE Rapporteur on Turkmenistan, Prof. Emmanuel Decaux, ODIHR. GAL/15/03,12 March 2003, Restricted Document. 6 See further below Section III. 7 The Hague Recommendations regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities, October 1996; The Oslo Recommendations regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities, Feb- ruary 1998; and The Lund Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minori- ties in Public Life, September 1999. The Hague Recommendations are reproduced, together with some scholarly analysis of the related subject matter, in a special issue of the International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, 4(2) IJMGR (1996/97), 202-13.'Ihe Oslo Recommendations are likewise reproduced in a special issue of the same journal, 6(3) IJMGR (1999), 359-87. For the full

  • text of the Lund Recommendations, see 11(4) Helsinki Monitor (2000), 45-61. All three sets of Recommendations are also available in a number of languages from the Office of the HCNM or, in electronic form, on the HCNM's website at http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/recom- mendations/. 8 The Guidelines are currently available in English and Russian from the Office of the OSCE HCNM or, in electronic form, on the HCNM's website at http//www.osce.org/hcnm/docu- ments/recommendations/. Other translations will follow shortly. The Guidelines are also repro- duced along with an introductory article by John Packer and Sally Holt in 15(2) Helsinki Monitor (2004),103-26. For more on the Guidelines see further below under Section IV A. 9 The Baden Conference proceedings will be published in a special issue of the journal Mercator Media Forum 8, January 2005. 10 See, Tarlach McGonagle, Bethany Davis Noll and Monroe Price (eds.), Minority-Language Related Broadcasting and Legislation in the OSCE, April 2003. This (over 500 page) survey com- missioned by the HCNM and carried out by the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University and the Institute for Informa- tion Law at the University of Amsterdam, can also be accessed electronically at http://www.ivir. nl/staff/mcgonagle.html or http://pcmlp.socleg.ox.ac.uk/minority-languages.pdf. 11 See further below under Section V.B. 12 Specifically European Council Directives 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 (or so-called "Race Directive") and 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000, which were clearly the inspiration for the text of the Slovak Act on the Implementation of the Principle of Equal Treatment and on the Protection against Discrimination, Amending and Supplementing Certain Other Laws.

  • 13 "OSCE High Commissioner visits Serbia and Montenegro, discusses minority rights", OSCE Press Release, 22 April 2004. 14 Annual Report on OSCE Activities, 2003,140. 15 See, for example, Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 16 It should be noted that the Convention is open to signature and ratification by non-Council of Europe member states. 17 See Advisory Committee opinion on Ukraine, Council of Europe Doc. ACFC/INF/OP/ 1(2002)010, paras. 17-8, in which the Advisory Committee notes restrictions on the scope of application of Ukraine's 1992 Law on National Minorities and is of the opinion that it would be possible to consider the inclusion of persons belonging to other groups, including non-citizens as appropriate, in the application of the Framework Convention on an article-by-article basis, and that the Ukrainian authorities should consider this issue in consultation with those concerned. See also the Venice Commissiods opinion on two draft laws amending the law on national minorities in Ukraine, Council of Europe Doc. CDL-AD(2004)013, paras. 16-22, where it is stated that, in the opinion of the Venice Commission, "Ukraine should omit the reference to citizenship in the general definition of national minorities in the draft legislation under consid- eration, and add it in the specific clauses relating to the rights specifically reserved to citizens, such as political rights or access to civil service".

  • 18 For an elaboration on the process and content of this first opinion see Matthew Draper, "The Activities of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities: June 2002-June 2003", 2 EYMI (2002/3), 475-91, at 480-1. 19 OSCE HCNM Note for the NIHRC in Response to Questions of 12 August 2003, 22 March 2004 (copies available, on request, from the NIHRC). 20 The Action Plan was adopted by the Permanent Council (OSCE Doc. PC.DEC/566, 27 Novem- ber 2003) and endorsed by the Ministerial Council in its Decision in Maastricht (OSCE Doc. MC.DEC/3/03) at the end of 2003. 21 Ibid., Section I. Scope and Objectives, para. 2. 22 For an elaboration on this theme see his address "From the Copenhagen Criteria to the Copenhagen Summit: The Protection of National Minorities in an Enlarging Europe" to the conference on National Minorities in the Enlarged European Union, hosted by the Danish Gov- ernment, Copenhagen, 5 November 2002, available at http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/ speeches/2003/. 23 Rolf Ekeus, "Towards a Europe for All", Speech at the Programme Roundtable Conference on New Minorities: Inclusion and Equality, International Press Center Nieuwspoort,The Hague, 20 October 2003, available at http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/speeches/2003/.

  • 24 See, for example, ibid. 25 Article 1-2: The Union's Values, reads as follows: The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. 26 Ekeus, "Towards a Europe for All ...". In this respect, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE has suggested that the mandate and resources of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minori- ties be "modified and strengthened to deal with the protection of the new minorities in established democracies in the OSCE area, and to help them integrate into the societies of their new home- lands while recognizing their right to maintain their own cultural heritage"; Rotterdam Declaration of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and Resolutions adopted during the Twelfth Annual Session, Rotterdam, 5-9 July 2003, OSCE Doc. PA.GAL/5/03, 23 July 2003, para. 84. 27 See Articles 10(2),11(3), and 14(2) referring to "areas traditionally inhabited" by persons belong- ing to national minorities. 28 Ekeus, "Towards a Europe for All ...". In doing so he referred to the Committee of Ministers who, acting on the Advice of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, support this approach. 29 Ibid.

  • 30 Edinburgh Declaration of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and Resolutions adopted in the Thirteenth Annual Session, Edinburgh 5-9 July 2004, para. 71. 31 Ekeus, "Towards a Europe for All ...". 32 See also the High Commissioner's statement further to a visit to Latvia in February 2004 stress- ing the importance of ratification as a step in Latvia's preparation for EU membership: "OSCE High Commissioner visits Latvia to learn at first-hand about minority education reforms", OSCE Press release, 27 February 2004. 33 "New Georgian leadership welcomes activities of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities", OSCE Press Release, 3 March 2004.

  • 34 "High Commissioner warns of Hungarian 'Status Law' precedent", OSCE Press Release, 24 June 2003. 35 Ibid.

  • 36 "New Georgian leadership welcomes activities of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities", OSCE Press Release, 3 March 2004.

  • 37 Ibid.

  • 38 See, for example, his Address on "Education as a Means of Integration in Multi-ethnic Soci- eties" to the Conference on Building Understanding and Tolerance in Multi-ethnic Societies: Promoting Integration and the Role of the International Community, organized by the OSCE HCNM, Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and Assembly of the People of Kyrgyzstan, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 3 November 2003. See further under Section IV.B. for a description of the HCNM's engagement on education issues in a number of OSCE participating states. 39 See paras. 42, 85-6 and 104 in this regard.

  • 40 Ibid., para. 35.

  • 41 Supra (notes 8 and 10).

  • 42 Sally Holt and John Packer, "OSCE Developments and Linguistic Minorities", 3(2) MOST ,journal on Multicultural Societies (2001), para. 2.28, available at http://www.unesco.org/most/ vl3n2packer.htm. 43 OSCE Copenhagen Document, para. 32.2 and Framework Convention, Article 13.

  • 44 At the beginning of the 2003/4 academic year, the SEE University registered almost 4000 stu- dents of whom about 15% are non-Albanians. At this year's new enrolment the percentage of non-Albanians has risen to 25%. 45 Statistics indicate a gradual increase in the number of students participating in the project and passing entrance examinations. 46 92% of candidates have passed the entrance examination.

  • 47 "OSCE High Commissioner visits Latvia to learn about minority education reforms", OSCE Press Release, 27 February 2004.

  • 48 "Key to social integration is dialogue, OSCE High Commissioner says after Estonia visit", OSCE Press Release,19 March 2004. 49 OSCE Press Release, 27 February 2004, supra (note 47). 50 Ibid. 51 Robert Dunbar, "Minority Language Rights in International Law", 50 ICLQ (2001), 90-120, at 111.

  • 52 Details of relevant projects including "Roma Use Your Ballots Wisely"which aims to strengthen Romani participation in democratic processes as voters, elected officials, and members of an active constituency who take part in advocacy, are available at http://www.osce.orglodihr/cprsi/. Roma participation is also increasingly taken into account in OSCE Election Monitoring Mis- sions. 53 For instance, a conference organized by the European Commission in cooperation with the OSCE ODIHR and the Chamber of Deputies Romanian Parliament in Bucharest on 15-18 April 2004 focused on "Good Practices in Promoting Roma and Minority Women in the Politi- cal and Democratic Processes: Experience of Romania in the OSCE Context".

  • 54 Non-citizen parents are currently required by the law to register their children born after August 1991 as citizens and, in this regard, the Ministry for Family and Child Affairs has launched a letter campaign encouraging them to do so. 55 Annual Report on OSCE Activities, 2003,141. 56 The deadline has since been extended to 2005.

  • 57 See Section IILA.

  • 58 Ministerial Council Decision No.1/04 Extension of the Mandate of the OSCE High Commis- sioner on National Minorities, OSCE Doc. MC.DEC/1/04, 25 June 2004.

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