Ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by the member states of the Council of Europe
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 4 October 2006 (27th Sitting) (see Doc. 10961, report
of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur:
Mr Cilevičs). Text adopted by the Assembly on
4 October 2006 (27th Sitting).
The Parliamentary Assembly recalls
its Recommendation 1492
, both concerning the rights of national minorities,
and pays tribute to the fundamental role which the Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities (ETS No. 157) (hereafter
the “Framework Convention”) has played over the past eight years
in improving the protection of national minorities in Europe and
promoting their rights.
To date, four states – Belgium, Greece, Iceland and Luxembourg
– have signed the Framework Convention but have still not ratified
it, and four others – Andorra, France, Monaco and Turkey – have
neither signed nor ratified it. The Assembly recalls that already
in Recommendation 1492
, it called upon the above-mentioned states to
sign and/or ratify, as soon as possible, without reservations or
declarations, the Framework Convention. It deplores the derisory
progress that has been made with regard to ratification since the
adoption of its last recommendation in 2003, as only three new ratifications
– by the Netherlands, Latvia and Georgia – have been recorded.
3 Considering that the protection of minorities is essential
to the preservation of social and political stability, democratic
security, the prevention of social tensions and the promotion of
the diversity of cultures and languages in Europe, as well as the
guarantee of full and effective equality of all people, the Assembly once
again reiterates its appeal to all the member states to respond
positively to the needs of national minorities and to safeguard
their rights, in particular as set forth in the Framework Convention.
4 It is important to recall in this context that the principle
of equality and non-discrimination constitutes a fundamental human
right. The Assembly is surprised that only 14 states have ratified
Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS
No. 177) and 21 have signed it.
5 The Assembly notes that Andorra, Belgium, France, Greece,
Iceland, Monaco and Turkey persist in their refusal to sign or ratify
the Framework Convention, on the grounds that they respect the principle
of non-discrimination in their domestic law. It is therefore surprised
that they are still not parties to Protocol No. 12 and would regard
the ratification of this instrument by these seven states as evidence
of their desire to match their deeds to their words, and thus ensure
effective protection for the rights of persons belonging to national minorities
or to minority groups under the authority of the European Court
of Human Rights.
The Assembly welcomes the fact that its Recommendation 1623 (2003)
for the reinstatement of the Committee of Experts on Issues Relating
to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN) has been followed
by the Committee of Ministers and underlines the important part
which the DH-MIN plays in promoting the existing instruments.
Consequently, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of
Ministers continue its efforts, in order to encourage:
7.1 those member states which have
not yet done so to sign and ratify the Framework Convention, without
reservations or restrictive declarations;
7.2 those member states which have signed but not yet ratified
the Framework Convention to ratify this instrument, without reservations
or restrictive declarations;
7.3 those states parties which have ratified the Framework
Convention while entering restrictive declarations or reservations
to withdraw the latter.
8 It also requests the Committee of Ministers to continue its
efforts to encourage the speedy ratification of Protocol No. 12
to the European Convention on Human Rights by those states which
are not yet parties to it.
The Assembly also requests the Committee of Ministers to revisit
the Framework Convention and initiate, where appropriate, the proper
procedure to review it in the light of experience gathered in its application,
in order to:
9.1 clarify the reasons
why some member states have not signed or ratified it or have ratified
it with reservations or restrictive declarations;
9.2 make it more legally coherent and responsive to the actual
European challenges by, inter alia, balancing the rights of minorities
with their obligations as well as with the protection of cultural
diversity, the consolidation of intercultural solidarity, social
cohesion and the civil nation’s unity.