Testo d'approfondimento parte della "Guida Minoranze"

19/07/2002 -  Anonymous User

After World War II, it was sought foremost to protect universal individual rights. This was the object of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, which in its Art. 2 proclaimed the principles of non-discrimination and equality. Over the last three decades, however, the need was felt
to go beyond principles of non-discrimination and equality in order to protect the rights of minorities and all major international institutions
have brought forward various instruments to this effect.
The first important international instrument for minority protection was the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which
was signed in 1966 and came into force in 1976. The Covenant is a general Treaty on Human Rights, with one article on minority rights. Article 27
states that "in those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied
the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their
own language". As a treaty, it is binding on all States that have adhered to it.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic,
Religious and Linguistic Minorities was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1992. It expands the provisions of Art. 27 ICCPR.
As a Declaration, it is not legally binding, but can serve as a guideline for State actions towards minorities.
All these instruments have been adopted within the framework of the United
Nations and are thus of universal significance. A number of instruments have also been adopted within the framework of regional organisations
in Europe, and often provide more ambitious provisions for the protection of minorities.
The OSCE adopted in 1990 the Copenhagen Document, whose entire Chapter
IV is devoted to minority issues. It remains to date the most important standard-setting text on minority rights, as it contains clearer and more
ambitious provisions than other documents. OSCE documents are not legally binding treaties but are considered to represent politically binding obligations
of States. But the Copenhagen Document is arguably also slowly turning into a rule of regional customary international law.
The Council of Europe adopted in 1995 the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities, which came into force in 1998. The Framework Convention is significant for being, in strict legal terms,
the first legally binding international instrument devoted to the rights of national minorities. As a framework Convention, however, it is not
directly applicable in the domestic legal orders of the member States but has to be implemented through national legislation. 34 States are
currently a Party to the Convention, including Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia.
Another important Treaty adopted within the framework of the Council of
Europe is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, adopted in 1992. The Charter regulates linguistic rights in the private and public
spheres. It is particularly noteworthy for containing a clear definition of "regional and minority languages", which is however binding only within
the context of the Charter. It also does not commit the Parties to implement all provisions of the Charter, but only a definite number of them, so
that the corresponding obligations will vary from State to State.
The recommendations of committees of Experts convened by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities should also be mentioned. They are
of course of a purely recommendatory nature, but can be consulted for the interpretation of the relevant international texts. The Hague Recommendations
concern education rights, the Oslo Recommendations deal with linguistic rights, and the Lund Recommendations refer to participation in public
Lastly, Recommendation 1201 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should be mentioned. It was intended as a Protocol to the European
Convention on Human Rights, which never came into being. However, the application from States from Central and Eastern Europe to the Council
of Europe were also assessed with regard to the obligations contained within this draft protocol. Article 11 of this draft protocol contains
a provision for minority groups to have control over their own affairs in the form of local or autonomous authorities.

Further Information

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 27, General Comment of the Human Rights Committe,
- UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic,
Religious and Linguistic Minorities,
- OSCE Copenhagen Document, http://www.riga.lv/minelres/osce/cope90e.htm
- Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,
- European Charter for Regional or Minority languages, http://www.riga.lv/minelres/coe/crml.htm
- Oslo Recommendations, http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/recommendations/oslo/index.php3
- Hague Recommendations, http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/recommendations/hague/index.php3
- Lund Recommendations, http://www.osce.org/hcnm/documents/recommendations/lund/index.php3
- Recommendation 1201 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, http://stars.coe.fr/ta/ta93/erec1201.htm

Other Information
- MINELRES Site on Minority Rights, http://www.riga.lv/minelres/
- Lapidoth, Ruth: "Autonomy: Flexible Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts", 1997.
- Marko, Joseph: "Der Minderheitenschutz in den jugoslawischen Nachfolgestaaten,
Slowenien, Kroatien und Mazedonien sowie die Bundesrepublik Jugoslawien mit Serbien und Montenegro", 1996.

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