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10 Helsinki Monitor 7 (1999)
Januns at Strasbourg: The Council of Europe between East and West

handle is hein.journals/helsnk10 and id is 9 raw text is: Janus at Strasbourg: The Council of Europe
between East and West
Andrg Liebich
In this article I hope to throw some light on contemporary minority issues in
Europe, East and West, by looking at the Council of Europe's experience in
this domain. Stefan Troebst deals in detail with the Council's most important
achievement in the area, the Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities.' It has been described both in the press and by Council of
Europe spokespersons as 'the first legally binding international document in the
field of minority protection establishing a code of conduct for adhering states'.2
The Framework Convention, opened for signature in February 1995, has by
now been ratified by twenty-four states, twice as many as required for it to
enter into force. Looking beyond the Framework Convention to the context in
which it must operate, I propose to enumerate some of the difficulties and
implications of the Council of Europe's involvement in minority issues since
1989. The principal point I should like to make is that by including minority
problems in East Central and Eastern Europe within its purview, the Council of
Europe has, in fact, radically transformed the minority question throughout
Europe as a whole.'
Upon its creation in 1949 the Council of Europe was entrusted with fos-
tering democratic values and human rights in a continent where these were seen
as threatened. One might imagine that as a guardian of fundamental principles
the Council would have stood more in the forefront of political developments
on the continent. In fact, this was not the case and the Council soon came to
occupy a secondary role. True, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of
Ministers, the European Commission of Human Rights, the European Court of
Human Rights, and the Strasbourg-based bureaucracy of the Council all
I    Stefan Troebst, 'Words, Words, Words ...? The Council of Europe's Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities', in this issue.
2    'Konvention zum Schutz von Minderheiten', Neue Zircher Zeitung, 2 February 1995.
3    Among the recent writings on this subject see, Alain Fenet , 'L'Europe et les minorit6s',
in: Le Droit et les minorit~s: analyses et textes, ed. by Alain Fenet with Genevieve Koubi,
Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff, Tatjana Ansbach. Brussels: Bruylant, 1995, esp. pp. 131-138.
'The Council of Europe and Minorities', COEMIN report prepared by Patrick Thorberry
and Maria Amor Martin Estebanez, September 1994. Florence Benoit-Rohmer and Hilde
Hardeman, The Minority Question in Europe: Towards the Creation of a Coherent
European Regime, CEPs Paper No. 55. London: Centre for European Policy Studies, 1994.
'The Protection of the Minorities in Europe', report presented by Florence Benoit-Rohmer,
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly, Council of
Europe, 31 October 1991. Most relevant here is Jean E. Manas. 'The Council of Europe's
Democracy Ideal and the Challenge of Ethno-National Strife', in: Preventing Conflict in the
Post Communist World: Mobilizing International and Regional Organizations, ed. by
Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes. Washington, D.C.: Brooking Institution,
1996, pp. 99 - 144.

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