6 Helsinki Monitor 38 (1995)
The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

handle is hein.journals/helsnk6 and id is 40 raw text is: The Council of Europe Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities
Anders Ronquist
On 10 November 1994, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
adopted a Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
They decided to lay it open for signature during the beginning of 1995. The
Ministers noted that this is the first international treaty which is exclusively
devoted to the protection of national minorities and which establishes substan-
tive legal principles and incorporates a monitoring mechanism under interna-
tional law for their implementation. They expressed the hope that the Conven-
tion would enter into force as soon as possible.
The Convention will enter into force after twelve member states of the
Council of Europe have ratified it. The Convention will, upon invitation, also
be open to non-member states. The explanatory report to the Convention'
indicates that these 'other states' are those states which are participating in the
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (cscE).
With the adoption of this Framework Convention, the Council of Europe
has achieved one of the major objectives for the protection of national minor-
ities set by the Heads of State and Government at their Vienna Summit of 9
October 1993. In the Vienna Declaration, they considered, inter alia, that the
Council of Europe should apply itself to transforming, to the greatest possible
extent, the CSCE political commitments on national minorities into legal
obligations. The Council of Europe is now engaged in the second standard-
setting task agreed upon in Vienna, that is drafting a protocol to the European
Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
(ECHR) 'in the cultural field by provisions guaranteeing individual rights, in
particular for persons belonging to national minorities'.
The notion of a 'Framework' Convention seems to have been chosen by
the Vienna Summit in order to create a convention which would contain
principles and not justiciable rights. The explanatory report of the Convention
states that the Framework Convention aims to specify legal principles, that it
contains mostly programme-type provisions setting out objectives, and that the
provisions are not directly applicable but leave the states concerned a measure
of discretion as to their implementation. It should be noted, however, that the
Convention also repeats obligations to ensure respect for such fundamental
rights as freedom of assembly, association, expression and religion.
The Vienna Summit chose a different approach than that proposed by the
Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly, in its Recommendation 1201 (1993),
proposed that an additional protocol on the rights of national minorities be
1.  The text of the Framework Convention and the explanatory report are contained in Council
of Europe Document H (94) 10. The text of the Convention is reprinted in the Documents
section of this issue of Helsinki Monitor, pp. 120-126.

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