The Committee of Experts on Issues relating to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN) - discontinued in 2010
The Committee of Experts on Issues relating to the Protection of National Minorities (DH-MIN) is an inter-governmental committee of experts on national minority issues, established by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and acting under the aegis of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH).
The role of the DH-MIN in brief
It is not the role of the DH-MIN to pursue activities relating to monitoring the situation in individual member states of the Council of Europe. This task is carried out by the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention, with respect of the states which ratified the Framework Convention.
The primary role of the DH-MIN is to act as a forum for the exchange of information, views and experience on policies and good practice for the protection of national minorities and to carry out a reflection on transversal issues relevant to member states, drawing on the results of the monitoring mechanism of the Framework Convention and, where appropriate other bodies such as the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.
The DH-MIN in its work organises hearings with representatives of national minorities and non-governmental organisations with recognised competence in the field of minority protection and commissions relevant policy-research. Also, it prepares draft opinions for the CDDH on relevant issues, including in particular recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly or the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and identifies and assesses ways and means of further enhancing European co-operation on issues relating to the protection of national minorities.
Governments of all member states of the Council of Europe (not just the State-Parties to the Framework Convention) are entitled to appoint representatives with the relevant qualifications in the field of protection of national minorities to take part in the work of the DH-MIN.
Under the current terms of reference, adopted in 2010 and subject to renewal at the end of 2011, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, states with observer status of the Council of Europe (Canada, Holy See, Japan, Mexico, United States of America), intergovernmental organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) / the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, non-governmental organisations (Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) , International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), European Coordinating Group for National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the European Roma and Travellers Forum and the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) are invited to send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote. Belarus, a non-member state of the Council of Europe, may also send a representative to the meetings of the Committee without the right to vote.
Council of Europe bodies, active in the field of national minorities’ protection (the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), and the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention) are also invited to attend the meetings of the DH-MIN.
Fields of work
In the years 2005-2010, the DH-MIN discussed a wide range of topics relating to the protection of national minorities. Among these there were:
- distribution of public financial support (subsidies) for national minority associations;
- impact of international non-discrimination norms relevant to the protection of national minorities;
- specific regulations contained in electoral laws and the laws on political parties that are relevant for national minorities;
- access of national minorities to new media;
- ethnic data collection and appropriate methods for gathering such data;
- promotion of use of native languages in minority communities;
- use of the existing binding and non-binding instruments concerning the protection of national minorities and non-discrimination in relation to new communities;
- relations between a state and kin minorities residing in a different state.
The DH-MIN expressed also its’ opinions on the draft responses of the Committee of Ministers to a number of Recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.