Rights of minorities


Doc. 6562

3 February 1992

Rapporteur: Mr DE PUIG, Spain, Socialist

1.         The report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is quite correctly concentrated on legal questions and the proposed recommendation has the same emphasis, in particular on the need for non-governmental instruments for mediation which we would support. These texts touch however on the cultural area and it would seem necessary to add a further comment on how we are approaching the question in the Committee on culture and Education.

2.         Legal protection of the rights of minorities should clearly be backed up in education and the work of the Council of Europe in this field must be reinforced.

3.         The role of the media is also crucial. Several international conferences will concentrate on this question in the course of this year. The Committee on Culture and Education is particularly concerned with the emergence of a journalist ethic with regard to minority questions.

4.         From a cultural point of view historic minorities of European origin are the essence of the cultural diversity that we feel to be so characteristic of Europe. We could apply this to many fields and evoke language, religion or religious practice, and traditional sports, building styles, music, gastronomy.  We can also include in this kaleidoscope new traditions, whether generated by indigenous or immigrant cultures.

5.         This cultural approach should not however be confused with an interest for the minority groups involved as such. To take very specific examples: we do not accept that being a Jehovah's witness can be held as a reason for excluding a teacher from education in non-religious fields; we do not believe that a minority can demand education exclusively in its language  On the other hand we have already called for an open approach to comparative religious education; we fully support the Council of Europe's work in the field of modern language teaching/learning; we have opposed the systematic destruction of the  heritage of minorities.

6.         Minority culture can be reason for conflict, controversy and fierce opposition. We would rather see emphasis placed on its richness and on help given to its promotion in a positive context. But we are only considering in this opinion the cultural aspects of the minority problem.

7.         The Committee on Culture and Education is ready to collaborate actively in the process of elaborating the documents recommended by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Reporting committee: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Doc. 6556).

Committee for opinion: Committee on Culture and Education.

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: None.

Reference: Order No. 456 (1990).

Opinion: Approved by the committee on 3 February 1992.

Secretaries to the committee: MM. Grayson and Ary