Gösta Toft: the minority framework convention should refocus on traditional minorities

- Press releases

FUEN Vice President Gösta Toft and FUEN Staff member Roman Roblek participated at the symposium “Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: Taking Stock after 20 years”. The conference was taking place from 13-14 March 2018 at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.

The occasion was the 20th jubilee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe. The document contains essential regulations on education, participation, language rights and the access to media for national minorities in Europe. Currently, it has been ratified by 39 out of the 47 Member states of the Council of Europe, making it the most important agreement on minority protection at the level of international law.

The participants took stock of the general development and implementation of the Framework Convention, looking at every part of it. All the experts agreed on understanding the Framework Convention as a living instrument and highlighted the importance of the flexibility of such a framework. It should always be adjusted in strong relation to the new realities and challenges of our current society. In the course of digitalisation and mobility, minorities see themselves confronted with new challenges, which at the same time offer new opportunities. Therefore, a bold and vivid interpretation of the Framework Convention is necessary.

The lack of willingness of some states to implement the regulations of the Framework Convention and the refusal of some states to ratify it were criticised by the participants. Furthermore, the interpretation of the convention’s scope was discussed, which was increasingly adjusted to new minorities by the supervisory board of the Council of Europe to the Framework Convention (advisory committee) in the past years.

FUEN Vice President Gösta Toft emphasised the importance of the convention, regarding it as a fantastic instrument for the protection of national minorities. Toft reminded the members of the advisory committee about the original thought the convention is based upon; which is to protect the traditional, autochthonous minorities. He recommended the Council of Europe to refocus back on this idea. He added that new minorities need a separate convention. Furthermore, Toft presented the Minority SafePack Initiative and its most recent figures to the conference participants.

The highlight of the conference was the presentation of the new legal commentary to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Contributions were made by Rainer Hofmann, professor of law at the Goethe University and minority rights expert, Prof. Dr. Tove Malloy, director of the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) in Flensburg, and Dr. Detlev Rein, researcher in the field of minority issues and long-term expert for minority protection at the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Bonn.

Many of the speaker in the panels were authors of the commentaries, thus the most recent state of science and decisions of the Council of Europe (advisory committee and ministry committee) could be discussed.

“20 years of the Framework Convention are an occasion to look at the past, present and future, to appreciate the implementation efforts and successes in many states. However, at the same time it is also important to point out the existing implementation deficits, which are to be reduced. The commentary contains a summary of the reviews made through 140 statements by the advisory committee relating to the member states. It aims to help those responsible in the administration of as well as the associations of national minorities to properly assess and adjust to the rights of national minorities”, concluded Dr. Detlev Rein.

Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


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