Conference on 20 years of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

On 18 and 19 June 2018, the Council of Europe organised a high-level conference under the Croatian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The conference in Strasbourg was held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages were elaborated by the Council of Europe in the 1980s and early 1990s at a time of profound geopolitical changes and quest for a better recognition of minority rights. Both instruments entered into force in 1998 and albeit distinct in approach and background, both serve to depoliticise the often contentious question of treatment of persons belonging to national minorities, including their languages, turning their protection into a pan-European commitment. Their implementation is monitored by bodies comprised of independent experts, namely the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention and the Committee of Experts of the Language Charter, as well as the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The rights enshrined in the two instruments have materialised into a growing body of national laws ensuring minority rights, including widespread possibilities for education in minority languages, the use of minority languages in contact with the administration and topographical signs, as well as participatory structures giving minority representatives access to decision-making. All these elements are essential for the integration of society as a whole, wherein both persons belonging to national minorities and to the majority can prosper.

(Source: https://www.coe.int/en/web/minorities/20-years-conference)

At the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 25 May 2016 Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay, the deputy ombudsman responsible for the protection of the rights of national minorities in Hungary, has been elected a permanent member of the Advisory Committee of the Minority Framework Convention in acknowledgement of her several decades’ scientific and international legal expertise in the field of minority protection.

The Advisory Committee is responsible for examining and reviewing individual country reports on the rights of nationalities and, on the basis of these and on the basis of the experience of the on-site visits, comment on the measures and recommendations made by the States Parties to implement the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Advisory Committee is a panel of independent experts, with a permanent membership of 18 members. Members are selected by the Committee of Ministers as candidates proposed by States ratifying the Framework Convention.

Ms Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay’s mandate is for four years from 1 June 2016, during which period, as an independent and impartial permanent member of the Advisory Committee, she enjoys broader opportunities than before to continue her work as an international expert in the protection of national minorities' rights.

Members of the FCNM Advisory Committee