20th anniversary of the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the Protection of National Minorities
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 10 November 1994. Following the required ratification by the twelve Council of Europe member states, the Convention entered into force on 1 February 1998. The Convention declares that the protection of national minorities and of the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to those minorities forms an integral part of the international protection of human rights, and that its provisions must be applied in good faith and in conformity with the principles of good neighbourliness, friendly relations and co-operation between states. The Convention sets forth principles and goals, such as non-discrimination and promotion of full and effective equality between persons belonging to a national minority and those belonging to the majority in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life. States must promote the conditions necessary for persons belonging to national minorities to freely express, maintain and develop their culture, religion, language and traditions. Furthermore, the Convention protects the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, linguistic rights in the fields of education and the rights of persons belonging to national minorities to effectively participate in decision-making processes. For states it thus represents a framework which they must complete with national legislation, as well as with appropriate government policies and programmes ensuring effective protection for national minorities and management of ethnic heterogeneity. Particular provisions contained in the Convention apply to society as a whole (e.g. ensuring tolerance, intercultural dialogue and respect), while others apply specifically to persons belonging to national minorities. Together with the Committee of Ministers, the Advisory Committee of eighteen independent experts is responsible for evaluating the implementation of the Convention. During the 2016–2018 term of office, the Advisory Committee is presided over by Dr Petra Roter. The implementation mechanism promotes more constructive dialogue between the governments and national minorities, and contributes to improving the position of national minorities and their members, and thus also to better social integration. To date, Slovenia has submitted four reports on legislative and other measures adopted for the implementation of the Convention. In June 2017, the Advisory Committee adopted the Fourth Opinion on Slovenia, which is available here. The framework Convention has been ratified by 39 of the 47 Council of Europe member states. Slovenia acceded to the Convention on 25 March 1998 with a written declaration in which it granted protection under the Convention to the Italian and Hungarian national communities and to members of the Roma community living in the Republic of Slovenia. On this day, the Republic of Slovenia calls on states which have not yet done so to accede to the Convention.