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Protecting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities

Elvira / Kovacs / Serbia

The Parliamentary Assembly today reaffirmed its support for the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities – the first legally binding instrument to recognise the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to national minorities as fundamental human rights, and a cornerstone in preserving pluralistic and inclusive democracies.

In its resolution, based on the report by Elvira Kovács (Serbia, EPP/CD), PACE regretted that the rights of persons belonging to national minorities are currently facing a number of challenges. These include a weakening of support for human rights in general, as well as intra- and interstate tensions, which have at times led to minorities being perceived as a threat to the security and territorial integrity of States. Increasing tensions have also been observed around the use of minority languages and teaching in and of these languages, the parliamentarians stressed.

PACE also expressed concern at the rise in hate speech and hate crimes across Europe, targeting anyone perceived as different and designating persons belonging to national minorities as scapegoats.

The Assembly therefore urged States which have not yet done so to ratify the Framework Convention without delay, and called on all States Parties to the Framework Convention to incorporate the standards enshrined in this instrument into domestic legislation and to put them into practice “by adopting comprehensive legislative frameworks for the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities”.

According to the adopted resolution, States should strengthen the dialogue with persons belonging to national minorities, “by setting up permanent consultation mechanisms”, allowing their full and effective participation on all issues concerning their rights. PACE also recommended that additional measures be put in place to combat hate speech against these persons.