What is the role of NGOs in the monitoring mechanism of the FCNM?
NGOs and minority associations have a key role in the monitoring mechanism of the Framework Convention. Resolution 97(10) on the monitoring arrangements of the FCNM explicitly provides that the Advisory Committee may receive and invite information from sources other than the state report.
In practice, NGOs and minority associations, with support from international NGOs such as the Minority Rights Group (MRG) which produced a guide (see below), have very often used this opportunity to provide the Advisory Committee with reports about the state of implementation of the Framework Convention on the ground. Such alternative information, as well as the possibility to have direct contacts with NGOs, has been greatly appreciated by the Advisory Committee. They have proved to be essential for the Advisory Committee to effectively fulfil its monitoring tasks.
What is the possible input of NGOs in the monitoring of the FCNM?
NGOs and minorities may contribute to the monitoring of the FCNM in various stages of the procedure and these contributions are very welcome and valuable. The status of monitoring table, available on the welcome page of the FCNM website www.coe.int/minorities indicates when states reports are due so that NGOs may plan well in advance.
While the examples below cover the monitoring procedure only, NGOs may also play an important role in encouraging the ratification of the Framework Convention for those states that have not yet done so.
NGOs provide valuable monitoring input by:
- Providing information to the Advisory Committee through different types of written submissions at the time when the report of the state concerned is due (every 5 years): shadow reports which cover the situation of one or several minorities and focus on selected articles or topics or provide information on all articles of the Framework Convention. Contributions in English and French are preferable. Only public shadow/alternative reports are cited in opinions of the Advisory Committee and confidentiality is respected for other information which may be mentioned in opinions without the source being cited;
- Sending ad hoc information as well on specific issues irrespective of the status of the monitoring with regard to the state concerned. Such information may, for example, draw attention to a specific development regarding the implementation of the Framework Convention in a given state party;
- Using the FCNM as a tool for dialogue: state authorities are encouraged to include NGOs in the drafting process of the state report, obtaining information on the implementation of the FCNM and discussing it;
- Participating in follow-up meetings, upon invitation of the FCNM secretariat, once the monitoring results are made public;
- Contributing to transparency by encouraging the authorities to publish the country-specific opinion of the Advisory Committee as soon as possible, as well as translate it in local languages. The practice of the FCNM secretariat is to ask the authorities for other language versions during the follow-up process;
- Contributing, at the request of the FCNM secretariat, to the consultations undertaken by the Advisory Committee upon the preparation of its thematic commentaries. NGO participation is of particular importance.
Where to submit information?
Council of Europe
Secretariat of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
F–67075 Strasbourg Cedex
For email submissions, see contact information on www.coe.int/minorities
Where to find further guidance and information?
Advocacy Calendar: provides an overview of the monitoring cycle of the Framework Convention indicates how minority NGOs may contribute to the process.
See Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: Opportunities for NGOs and Minorities, a guide for NGOs, produced by the Minority Rights Group in April 2006, 88 pages, ISBN 1 904584 38 1
 These are: Andorra, Belgium, France, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Monaco and Turkey.
 See also MINELRES, list of shadow reports submitted by NGOs under the Framework Convention, http://www.cilevics.eu/minelres/coe/statereports.htm (up to 2010). For information on more recent shadow reports please contact the Secretariat of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.