Interim reply to Recommendation 1255 (1995) on the protection of the rights of national minorities and Recommendation 1285 (1996) on the rights of national minorities

Doc. 7519
12 April 1996

COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 April 1996 at the 562nd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies


            The Committee of Ministers has taken note of Recommendation 1255 (1995) and 1285 (1996) and welcomes the continuing interest expressed by the Assembly in issues relating to the protection of national minorities.

            In particular, the Committee of Ministers welcomes the support expressed by the Assembly for the widest possible signature and ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter of Local Self Government, and the early entry into force of the first two instruments.

            With regard to the Assembly's proposal to draw up an amending Protocol to the latter instrument to enable non‑member States to accede to it, the Committee of Ministers would inform the Assembly that it is seeking the views of the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Authorities (CDLR).  It will inform the Assembly of the follow‑up envisaged once it has received the opinion of the CDLR.

            The Committee of Ministers has taken note of the views expressed by the Assembly regarding the Advisory Committee mentioned in Article 26 paragraph 1 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It would inform the Assembly that, at their 560th meeting, the Ministers' Deputies agreed to undertake the work regarding the implementation mechanism provided for in Article 24-26 of the framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in accordance with the following procedure:

1.    to instruct an Ad hoc Committee of Experts on the Implementation Mechanism of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (CAHMEC) to clarify pertinent questions and to identify possible options within the confines of Article 24-26 of the Framework Convention;

2.    to establish an ad hoc committee of Deputies open to all and with the assistance and participation of experts in order to identify and agree on the broad lines of the implementation mechanism, on the basis of the report of the meeting of the CAHMEC;

3.    to instruct the CAHMEC to draft, on the basis of the decisions taken by the ad hoc committee of Deputies, the necessary regulations and procedures, within an agreed period, to enable the Committee of Ministers to meet the requirements of Articles 24-26 of the Framework Convention;

4.    to take final decisions on the implementation mechanism of the Framework Convention.

            It has further been agreed that the aim is to complete the first two stages by the time the Framework Convention is expected to enter into force. In this context, it is expected that the number of ratifications required to bring the Framework Convention into force will be achieved later this year.

            The Committee of Ministers would draw attention to the fact that the Parliamentary Assembly will be able to keep fully abreast of the work in the CAHMEC, since it is entitled to designate a representative to participate in this Committee.

            With regard to the drafting of a Protocol complementing the European Convention on Human Rights in the cultural field by provisions guaranteeing individual rights, in particular for persons belonging to national minorities, the Committee of Ministers refers to the decision taken at the 554th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies.  This decision, which was taken after thorough debate, was to suspend the work of the Ad hoc Committee for the Protection of National Minorities (CAHMIN) on this subject, its working papers being declassified and made available to interested circles. However, the Committee of Ministers would draw the Assembly's attention to the fact that it has also decided to continue reflection on the feasibility of further standard-setting in the cultural field and in the field of protection of national minorities, taking into account the Declaration adopted at the Vienna Summit. The Committee of Ministers will inform the Assembly in due course of the outcome of this work.