The role of NGOs in the implementation and monitoring of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Bodies or associations promoting regional or minority languages and/or representing their speakers are key partners of authorities in the pursuit of the shared aim of promoting these languages. Their role is decisive, both before and after ratification of the Charter.
Associations should encourage states to ratify the Charter and assist the authorities in choosing the provisions of the Charter (promotional measures) to be applied to each regional or minority language. The Council of Europe offers its support to authorities and associations in this process.
Implementation of the Charter
Once the Charter has been ratified by a state, associations should proactively support the national authorities in designing practical measures implementing the Charter provisions.
The Language Guides provide an overview of the provisions applying to regional or minority languages in the respective language.
Monitoring of the Charter
In order to monitor states’ compliance with their obligations under the Charter, the Committee of Experts adopts evaluation reports containing recommendations on how the use of each regional or minority language can be improved. Chapter 2 of the evaluation report contains a section on each regional or minority language which shows the Charter provisions that have been implemented or not and the Committee of Experts’ recommendations. All reports and recommendations are available here.
When preparing its evaluation reports, the Committee of Experts organises on-the-spot visits to the countries concerned with a view to consulting associations representing the regional or minority language speakers as well as national/regional/local authorities. On-the-spot visits are an opportunity for associations to inform the Committee of Experts of shortcomings in the implementation of the Charter.
In accordance with Article 16 (2) of the Charter, bodies or associations legally established in a state may also submit written information to the Committee of Experts. Such information
- should provide details on the implementation of the Charter provisions applying to a particular language, in particular those provisions that are not yet fully implemented. Chapter 2 of the evaluation report of the previous monitoring cycle can help associations structure their information
- may comment on, or complement relevant parts of the state report on the Charter submitted by the authorities
- may raise any other issue linked to the implementation of the relevant Charter provisions.
It is important to note that:
- Written information can be submitted at any time.
- The Committee of Experts takes the information received from associations during the on-the-spot visit and/or in writing into account in its evaluation reports, without mentioning the names of the associations.
- Written information can be sent by email ([email protected]).
It should be borne in mind that the recommendations can only be implemented by the authorities in co-operation with the associations representing the speakers. It is therefore of utmost importance that associations, on their initiative, raise the recommendations with the authorities to call for improvements in the promotion of their language. Associations may also propose the organisation of a Charter Implementation Roundtable to be held with the authorities and Council of Europe representatives. Chapter 2 of the evaluation report and Language Guides help associations to prepare their meetings with the authorities.
Acceptance of additional Charter provisions
Associations can propose to the authorities to accept additional Charter provisions so as to extend the promotion of a regional or minority language in certain fields and adapt the application of the Charter to developments that have occurred since its ratification years ago. Several regional or minority languages in different states have already benefitted from such “upgrades” in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the Charter.
The Secretariat of the Charter also maintains regular contacts with relevant European organisations, notably with FUEN, ELEN and NPLD.