Political Participation of National Minorities

Analitika has published its report „Political Participation of National Minorities: Standards and State Practice in the Implementation of Article 15 of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,“ written by Kiran Auerbach. The publication is a result of the research project  “Political Participation of National Minorities in Local Governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” supported by the Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative of the Open Society Foundations.

Themes: Constitution, Institutions and Politics Human RightsDecentralization
Kiran Auerbach


Underneath is an excerpt from the report’s Executive Summary:

In the European context, the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter: Framework Convention or FCNM) from 1998 is the chief treaty dealing with minority rights, and it has been adopted by more than forty state parties across the continent. The Framework Convention deals with the subject of participation of national minorities in public affairs as part of Article 15; however, the text itself is ambiguous and offers little guidance on its practical implementation. In response to the growing recognition of participation in public affairs as an important aspect of minority rights, in 2008 the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter Advisory Committee or AC)—the expert body that monitors the implementation of the Convention—issued a detailed commentary. This Commentary on the Effective Participation of Persons Belonging to National Minorities in Cultural, Social and Economic Life and in Public Affairs offers its interpretation of fundamental standards for the realization of Article 15, reflecting its findings from the state reporting procedure.

The Advisory Committee has without doubt made valuable contributions to the awareness of minority participation in decision-making and to the establishment of standards in this area. This report analyzes both its Commentary and the most current reporting cycles from each state party to the Framework Convention in order to elucidate the meaning of effective participation in decision-making and to identify models of best practice. As a framework encapsulating institutional mechanisms of participation and common issues that must be taken into consideration in designing them, the report looks at coordination between the mechanisms and on different levels of governance, including the local level, which has been prone to neglect in most of the relevant scholarship. Apart from its general purpose, the report particularly intends to promote and offer guidance for implementing minority inclusive governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Balkan states. This latter dimension of orientation of this report is due to the often noted lack of understanding of the concept of political participation of minorities and often uncertain and winding routes towards truly multicultural governance that these states, to varying extents, are currently taking.

The analysis also recognizes two factors that affect the work of the Advisory Committee in standard-setting and evaluating state practice. The first is the broad margin of appreciation afforded to state parties in designing systems of minority political participation as well as the individualized approach of the Advisory Committee, which takes contextual specificities (e.g. current level of minority inclusion, historical and socio-political factors) into account when evaluating these systems. The second factor is the Advisory Committee’s limited mandate, as the agenda of the reporting procedure is for the most part set up by the state parties themselves: the AC relies on the cooperation of states and lacks an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance with its recommendations. This study therefore investigates the impact of these factors on standard-setting and on its individual opinions on state parties’ implementation of minority political participation. It incorporates illustrative examples from the state reporting procedure to highlight and further elucidate standards; however the analysis also aims to quell some of the optimism towards the AC’s work in light of noticeable gaps, influenced in part by the limitations to its mandate.

The full text of the publication is English language is available HERE.

The full text of the publication in local languages is available HERE.