Monitoring the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities provides for a monitoring system to evaluate how the treaty is implemented in states parties. It results in recommendations to improve minority protection in the states under review.
The Committee responsible for providing a detailed analysis on minority legislation and practice is the Advisory Committee. It is a committee of 18 independent experts which is responsible for adopting country-specific opinions. These opinions are meant to advise the Committee of Ministers in the preparation of its resolutions.
Monitoring cycles take place every five years, in accordance with the following stages:
1 - Submission of a report by the state party
The monitoring procedure requires each state party to submit a first report within one year following the entry into force of the Convention and additional reports every five subsequent years.
The drafting of state reports is based on outlines (1st cycle, 2nd cycle, 3rd cycle, 4th cycle, 5th cycle, 6th cycle) adopted by the Committee of Ministers and possible specific questionnaires by the Advisory Committee which set out the structure to be followed. This drafting often involves a process of consultation with minority and non-governmental organisations, who are also encouraged to submit alternative reports or information.
Once it is received by the Council of Europe, the state report is automatically made public.
2 - Monitoring carried out by the Advisory Committee
State reports are examined by the Advisory Committee which makes use of a wide variety of written sources of information from state and non-state actors.
The Advisory Committee has also developed the practice of carrying out regular country-visits during which it meets with government officials, parliamentarians, representatives of minorities, non-governmental organisations, Human Rights specialised bodies and other relevant interlocutors.
Following its examination of a state report, the Advisory Committee adopts an opinion which is transmitted to the state concerned as well as all states sitting in the Committee of Ministers. The opinion is made public four months after transmission. States parties have an opportunity to comment on this opinion. In preparing their response, they may choose to hold further consultations with minority and other non-governmental organisations. The state's comments are to be submitted to the Council of Europe no later than four months after transmission of the Advisory Committee opinion and can also be made public.
3 – Committee of Ministers’ resolutions to state parties
Following the adoption of an opinion by the Advisory Committee, the Committee of Ministers adopts a resolution containing conclusions and recommendations to the state concerned on the implementation of the Framework Convention. The preparation of this resolution provides an opportunity for other states, including non-state parties to express themselves on the situation in the state concerned. This resolution is made public upon its adoption.
4 - Follow-up dialogue on the results of the monitoring
In order to prompt discussions on the measures to be taken to improve minority protection, meetings have been organised in states parties for which monitoring has been completed. These meetings, called follow-up dialogue, have proved an excellent occasion to bring together all the actors concerned by the implementation of the Framework Convention - both governmental and non-governmental – and examine ways to put into practice the results of the monitoring.
5 - The Council of Europe monitors minority rights in Kosovo*
The Council of Europe and the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) concluded an agreement related to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in Kosovo* on 23 August 2004. According to the agreement, UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Kosovo shall exercise their respective responsibilities in compliance with the principles contained in the Framework Convention. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, assisted by the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention, shall monitor the implementation of this treaty in Kosovo*. The agreement emphasises that it does not make UNMIK a Party to the Framework Convention and that it is without prejudice to the future status of Kosovo* to be determined in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.