Comments of the CDDH on Parliamentary
1735 (2006) on the concept of “nation”, including the
question of support of national minorities by the kin state (as
adopted by the CDDH at its 65th meeting, 6-9 November 2007)
The Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) commends
the significant role of the Parliamentary Assembly on the furthering
of the protection of national minorities in Europe and welcomes
the Assembly’s Recommendation
on the concept of “nation” as a continuation
of these efforts.
2. The CDDH endorses the remark made by its Committee of Experts
on Issues relating to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN)
on the fact that the term “nation” has a different meaning in different
contexts, and that in these circumstances it is not possible to
arrive at a common definition. Such a definition is not necessary
for the effective implementation of Council of Europe standards
pertaining to national minorities, notably the Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities.
3. The CDDH underlines the importance of the Framework Convention,
as well as of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
and the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Recalling that
the DH-MIN regularly discusses the state of signatures and ratifications
of these instruments, the CDDH welcomes the fact that the number
of states parties to the Framework Convention has increased to 39
and the number of parties to the European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages has increased to 22.
4. The CDDH recalls that the protection of national minorities
forms an integral part of the international protection of human
rights and that it is also advanced by ensuring full respect for
the principle of non-discrimination (Article 14 and Protocol No.
12 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)) as interpreted
by the European Court of Human Rights. In this context, it recalls
the important work carried out by the European Commission against
Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which monitors the application of
the principle of non-discrimination in all member states.
5. As regards the Parliamentary Assembly’s request that the Committee
of Ministers invite member states to promote the recognition of
the cultural rights of minorities in their national legislation,
the CDDH recalls that, in the context of the monitoring processes
of the Framework Convention and the European Charter for Regional
or Minority Languages, the Committee of Ministers regularly adopts
recommendations for individual states parties on the promotion of
minority cultures and languages. In this respect, due account is
taken of the relevant recommendations issued by the Congress of
Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
6. The CDDH endorses the affirmation that the “promotion of ethnic
purity” has no place in a democratic society, where diversity is
an important and widespread feature. It firmly condemns all demonstrations
of, and incitement to, hatred and tensions between different populations.
It recalls its work on human rights in a multicultural society,
in which it notably broached the problem of “hate speech”.Note
also notes that, even though efforts to protect and promote the
rights of persons belonging to national minorities need to be maintained
and developed, it must be ensured that efforts also need to be made
to facilitate contacts between all persons, irrespective of their
ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity, in accordance
with Article6 of the Framework ConventionNote
and Article 7,
paragraph 3, of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.Note
8. As regards the Parliamentary Assembly’s recommendation on
ensuring that national constitutions facilitate integration of citizens
within a civic and multicultural entity, the CDDH stresses that,
although constitutional traditions and contexts differ, all member
states are committed to the inclusion of all their citizens in decision-making
processes and to the development of an inclusive and cohesive society,
with full respect to the principle of non-discrimination. It recalls
that the DH-MIN proceeds to exchanges of experiences on various means
to achieve these goals.
As concerns the Assembly’s recommendation that the Committee
of Ministers draws up guidelines on procedures for developing such
relations between a state and kin minorities residing in a different
state, including in neighbouring states, the CDDH recalls that,
according to Article 18 of the Framework Convention, the parties
shall endeavour to conclude, where necessary, bilateral and multilateral
agreements with these states in order to ensure an appropriate protection.
The CDDH considers in any case that, before taking any decision
concerning the elaboration of guidelines, it would be very useful
to ask the DH-MIN to analyse the added value of work currently carried
out in this field, notably by the Venice Commission,Note
the Advisory Committee
on the Framework Convention, the Expert Committee of the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the OSCE High Commissioner
on National Minorities.
Finally, the CDDH draws attention to a range of valuable ideas
contained in the report by Mr Jean-Claude Juncker (April 2006).
This text recognises the necessity of developing further cooperation
between the Council of Europe and the European Union concerning
the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and underlines
the very particular expertise of the Council of Europe in this area.Note
The CDDH hopes that the Committee of Ministers,
in the context of its follow-up to the Juncker report, will grant
the necessary scope for this co-operation.