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Recognition of Minorities in Europe: Protecting Rights and Dignity

7 April 2004

The comprehensive review of the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) by its Advisory Committee has helped establish that there are many ways in which states do not adhere to the internationally accepted norm of the self-identification of minorities. Consequently, scores of minorities and migrant groups are unable to enjoy the most fundamental right of ‘equality in dignity’. States and inter-governmental organizations need to make concerted efforts to remedy this situation.Inter-governmental organizations are urged to:

  • Encourage, and provide adequate resources to, their expert bodies to review the implementation of minority rights by member states through a comprehensive monitoring procedure similar to that of the FCNM’s AC, with attention inter alia to the fundamental aspect of the recognition of minorities.
  • Explicitly endorse by the top policy institutions (such as the CoE’s Committee of Ministers) the recommendations of the expert bodies and urge the states concerned to implement them.
  • Introduce special monitoring mechanisms for states that are reported by expert bodies to be in grave violation of minority rights, or have refused to ratify the international or regional standards for minority protection and have therefore escaped the expert bodies’ review.
  • Engage in, or enhance, dialogue with NGOs working on minority rights and/or representing minorities, and seek ways to empower or strengthen them.

States are urged to:

  • Recognize the existence of all minorities that even implicitly seek recognition and abolish all criteria that have restricted the full enjoyment of this right.
  • Implement swiftly and thoroughly the recommendations on recognition by expert bodies of inter-governmental organizations.
  • Include among the minorities protected by international or regional instruments and domestic legislation, indigenous and migrant groups, without prejudice to the rights these groups may additionally enjoy under different instruments or laws.
  • Engage in, or enhance dialogue with, NGOs working on minority rights and/or representing minorities, and seek ways to empower or strengthen them.

International donors are urged to:

  • Consider minority rights and especially the fundamental right to recognition as one of their priorities, and provide grants to empower or strengthen communities or NGOs working on minority rights and/or representing minorities.


Panayote Elias Dimitras