The European standards for the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities are primarily set by the 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The importance of respecting cultural diversity and working together at European level to protect and promote the rights of persons belonging to national minorities has been repeatedly reaffirmed, notably at the celebration of the Council of Europe’s 50th anniversary in 1999 and in the Final Declaration and Action Plan of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in 2005.
In the past twenty years, the Framework Convention has provided invaluable support for turning these words into a reality. The implementation of the Convention has positively affected national minorities in States parties and helped to maintain their linguistic, ethnic, cultural and national identity.
In the light of growing rhetoric which stigmatises diversity, it is time for the Parliamentary Assembly to reaffirm that respect for linguistic, ethnic, cultural and national diversity is a cornerstone of the system of human rights protection in Europe.
The Assembly should therefore look at the manner in which the Framework Convention has been implemented, take stock of achievements and draw together examples of best practices. The aim of this work is to show that compliance with the Convention contributes to the effective protection of national minorities and of the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to those minorities and to showcase the best practices implemented in Council of Europe member States.