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Monitoring Minority Rights in Europe: The Implementation Machinery of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities - With Special Reference to the Role of the Advisory Committee

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The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FC), adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 1994, is the first multilateral treaty focused on the protection of minorities. Despite the importance of the FC within the process of codification and development of legally binding minority rights standards, the bearing of its obligations is 'softened' by many limitation clauses relating to both the general structure of the provisions as well as their specific content. To a degree, this may be seen as inherent in a convention providing a framework for case-specific solutions to be found at the domestic level. It is also true, however, that domestic measures directed at implementing the FC might reflect so wide a measure of discretion or self-understanding as to be heardly compatible with the purpose of elaborating a set of core European standards protecting minorities, 'essential to stability, democratic security and peace' (fifth preambular paragraph), and as such falling 'within the scope of co-operation' on human rights matters (Article 1). It follows that the key to making the FC a truly fruitful step lies no doubt in a satisfactory monitoring of its implementation. The Committee of Ministers is entrusted with the task of monitoring the implementation of the FC by the States parties. It is assisted by an Advisory Committee (AC), whose members have recognised expertise in the field of the protection of national minorities. On 17 September 1997, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Resolution concerning the rules on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the FC (Resolution (97)10). It determines the role of the AC and, therefore, its relation with the Committee of Ministers. The aim of this article is to examine the monitoring procedure of the FC, with special reference to the impact of the AC on the profile and effectiveness of the mechanism. It sketches out the main general issues and briefly discusses some proposals put forward on the role of the AC; then, it moves on to the analysis of the FC implementation mechanism as resulting from Resolution (97)10 of the Committee of Ministers, within the broader context of the international monitoring of minority rights compliance.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Munich, Germany


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