30 Years of Action for Regional or Minority Languages
Thirty years ago, on 7 October 1981, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation 928 which initiated the drafting process of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Charter is the European convention for the protection and promotion of languages used by traditional minorities and linguistic groups.
Recommendation 928 called upon states to support the use of minority languages in public life. On its basis, the Council of Europe held in 1984 a public hearing of several hundred representatives of over forty minority languages. The hearing showed that many regional and minority languages were under serious threat. As a result, the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (now the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities) set up a group of experts to prepare a preliminary draft of the Charter. This draft was approved by the Parliamentary Assembly in 1988. The Committee of Ministers then decided to set up an ad hoc committee of government experts, which began work in 1989. Finally, the draft Charter was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 1992 and opened for ratification. It entered into force in 1998, around the same time as the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
Until now, the Charter has been ratified by 25 states. It presently promotes 82 languages in the fields of education, courts, administration, media, culture, economic and social life, and transfrontier co-operation. Several improvements in the situation of minority languages can be attributed to the Charter.