United Nations

A/50/514


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

5 October 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 112 (b)


HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS,
INCLUDING ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES FOR IMPROVING 
THE EFFECTIVE ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND    
FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights
of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious
and Linguistic Minorities

Report of the Secretary-General


CONTENTS

  Paragraphs  Page

I.  INTRODUCTION .........................................1 - 103

II.  PROMOTION AND PROTECTION BY STATES OF THE RIGHTS OF
  PERSONS BELONGING TO NATIONAL OR ETHNIC, RELIGIOUS AND
  LINGUISTIC MINORITIES ................................11 - 214

  A.  Protection of the existence of persons belonging
    to minorities ....................................   124

  B.  Right of minorities to enjoy their own culture ...   134

  C.  Right of minorities to practise and profess their
    own religion .....................................   145

  D.  Right of minorities to use their own language ....   155

  E.  Right of minorities to participate effectively in
    cultural, religious, social, economic and public
    life .............................................   165


95-30027 (E)  23095/...
*9530027*
CONTENTS (continued)

  Paragraphs  Page

  F.  Right of minorities to participate effectively in
    decisions at the national level ..................   175

  G.  Right of minorities to establish and maintain
    their own associations ...........................   186

  H.  Equality before the law ..........................   196

  I.  Mechanisms, procedure and other measures to
    promote and protect the rights of persons
    belonging to minorities ..........................   206

  J.  Commitments under international treaties and
    agreements .......................................   216

III.  ACTIVITIES OF THE RELEVANT ORGANS AND BODIES OF THE
  UNITED NATIONS GIVING DUE REGARD TO THE DECLARATION IN
  THE EXECUTION OF THEIR MANDATES ......................22 - 407

  A.  Commission on Human Rights .......................   227

  B.  Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and
    Protection of Minorities .........................  24 - 277

  C.  United Nations Centre for Human Rights ...........  28 - 318

  D.  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights   32 - 409

IV.  SPECIALIZED AGENCIES .................................41 - 4912

V.  TREATY BODIES ........................................50 - 5514

  A.  Human Rights Committee ...........................  50 - 5214

  B.  Committee on the Elimination of Racial
    Discrimination ...................................  53 - 5515

VI.  SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS ..................................56 - 6015

VII.  INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS ......................61 - 6517

  A.  Council of Europe ................................  61 - 6317

  B.  European Commission on Human Rights ..............  64 - 6518

VIII.  NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS ....................... 6620

IX.  CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ......................67 - 7820
I.  INTRODUCTION


1.   The General  Assembly, at  its forty-ninth  session, adopted resolution
49/192 of 23 December 1994 entitled  "Effective promotion of the Declaration
on the  Rights of  Persons Belonging  to National  or Ethnic, Religious  and
Linguistic  Minorities"  by  which  the   Assembly  urged  States   and  the
international  community to  promote  and  protect  the  rights  of  persons
belonging to national or ethnic, religious  and linguistic minorities as set
out  in the Declaration,  including through  the facilitation  of their full
participation in all aspects  of the political,  economic, social, religious
and  cultural life of society  and in the  economic progress and development
in their  country; and also  urged States to  take, as  appropriate, all the
necessary constitutional, legislative,  administrative and other measures to
promote and give effect to the principles contained in the Declaration.

2.   In  paragraph  8,  the Assembly  called  upon the  United Nations  High
Commissioner  for  Human   Rights  to  promote,   within  his  mandate,  the
implementation  of  the  principles  contained  in  the  Declaration  and to
continue  to  engage in  a  dialogue  with  Governments  concerned for  that
purpose.   The Assembly also requested the Secretary-General to report to it
at its fiftieth  session on the  implementation of the resolution  under the
item entitled "Human rights questions".

3.  Pursuant to that resolution,  the Secretary-General, by a  communication
dated  5 April  1995, invited States, interested  intergovernmental and non-
governmental  organizations,  special representatives,  special  rapporteurs
and  relevant working  groups  of  the Commission  on Human  Rights  and the
Subcommission on Prevention  of Discrimination and Protection of  Minorities
to submit their comments to the Centre for Human Rights by 4 July 1995.

4.  As of 25 August 1995, replies had been received from the Governments  of
Argentina, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark,  Dominica, Germany, the  Lao
People's  Democratic  Republic, Maldives,  Mauritius,  Morocco, the  Russian
Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Ukraine.

5.   Information  was  also provided  by  the relevant  organs,  bodies  and
special  rapporteurs  of  the  United  Nations  giving  due  regard  to  the
Declaration in the execution of their mandates.

6.    The  United  Nations  High  Commissioner  for  Human  Rights submitted
information on his activities in the field of minority protection.

7.    A  reply  was  also  received from  the  United  Nations  Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

8.   The Council  of Europe  sent a document  on the  work accomplished  and
currently being  carried out  in this field  by the Council  and its  organs
(European Court of Human Rights and European Commission on Human Rights).

9.  Replies were received from  two non-governmental organizations,  Caritas
Internationalis and the World Muslim Congress.
  10.  The present  report is submitted to the General Assembly in pursuance
of resolution 49/192.


               II.  PROMOTION AND PROTECTION BY STATES OF THE RIGHTS
                    OF PERSONS BELONGING TO NATIONAL OR ETHNIC,
                    RELIGIOUS AND LINGUISTIC MINORITIES

11.  Fifteen Governments, one specialized agency, one intergovernmental  and
two  non-governmental organizations replied to the request of the Secretary-
General  to submit  contributions  to the  Centre  for  Human  Rights.   The
Governments of Cyprus, the Czech  Republic, Morocco, the Russian Federation,
Spain  and Ukraine  provided substantive  information on  the  promotion and
protection of  persons belonging to minorities  within their  countries.  In
view of  the fact that  only a  few replies  were received  and that  little
substantive information  was submitted on  the promotion and  implementation
of the Declaration,  it was neither  possible to describe  the promotion  by
States  of the  relevant provisions  of the  Declaration in  detail, nor  to
provide an accurate representative reflection of  the measures taken by  the
international community as a whole.


                    A.  Protection of the existence of persons
                        belonging to minorities

12.   The Governments  of Cyprus,  the Czech  Republic, Dominica, Mauritius,
Morocco,  the Russian  Federation and  Ukraine recognized  the existence  of
national,  ethnic,  religious  and  linguistic  minority  groups  on   their
respective  territories,  and  mentioned  the  relevant  constitutional  and
legislative  provisions   protecting  them.     In  addition,  the   Russian

Federation  stated  that  everyone  shall  have  the  right  to  voluntarily
determine  and   state  his  national  identity   on  the   basis  of  self-
identification,  and  the   Czech  Republic  provided  information  on   the
acquisition by minorities of Czech citizenship.


B.  Right of minorities to enjoy their own culture

13.   In the  Russian  Federation, a  draft  law  on national  and  cultural
autonomy   has  been   elaborated  which  confirms  the   rights  of  ethnic
communities   to  preserve   and  develop   their  cultural   and   national
individuality, in  particular, to protect,  restore and  preserve their age-
old  cultural and historical environment. In Ukraine,  the 1992 Fundamentals
of Legislation  on the  Culture of Ukraine  are aimed at  the protection  of
cultures of  national minorities living  on its territory.   There exist  30
Russian and  30 Ukrainian-Russian  theatres,  one Crimean  Tatar theatre  in
Simferopol, a Hungarian theatre in Beregiv,  the Jewish and Romany  theatres
in Kiev and  approximately 2,000 various ethnic amateur performance  troupes
in Ukraine.   The  Ministry of  Culture of  the Czech Republic  has provided
financial  support  for  cultural  activities of  the  Romany  minority. The
Government  of Mauritius  has  established  various  funds to  preserve  and
promote the  African, Indian  and Islamic  cultures, and that  of the  Ilois
community.


                C.  Right of minorities to practise and profess their
                   own religion

14.   The Constitution  of the  Lao People's  Democratic Republic stipulates
that  the State shall  respect and protect  the legal  activities of persons
practising Buddhism and other religions.   The Government of Morocco  stated
that  the  Jewish  Moroccan minority  enjoys  the  constitutional  right  to
manifest its religion, whereby freedom of worship is guaranteed.


D.  Right of minorities to use their own language

15.   The  Governments of Cyprus,  the Czech Republic,  Germany, Morocco and
the Russian Federation guarantee minorities the  use of their own  language.
In the Czech Republic and  Morocco, the Romany and Tamazight minorities have
the  right  to  disseminate and  receive  information  in  their  respective
language  through  a  variety of  newspapers  and  magazines and  television
programmes.  At five  universities in the Czech Republic projects have  been
developed  to acquaint primary  schoolteachers with  basic knowledge  of the
Romany language  and culture to stimulate  the preparation  of textbooks for
Romany  children.    The  Danish  and  Sorbian  minorities  in  Germany  are
encouraged to make  use of their language in  public life and both  minority
languages  are taught  in schools  in the  areas in  which these  minorities
live.  The Constitution of the  Russian Federation guarantees that  everyone
has the right to  use his native language and  freely choose the language of
communication, education, training and creative work.


          E.  Right of minorities to participate effectively in cultural,
              religious, social, economic and public life

16.  The Government of Morocco stated that  the participation of the  Jewish
Moroccan  minority in all aspects of political, economic  and social life of
Moroccan society is guaranteed.  In particular, cultural activities  include
the  promotion of  literary and  artistic works such  as the  publication of
poetry and the production of films and theatre.


                F.  Right of minorities to participate effectively
                    in decisions at the national level

17.   In  Cyprus the  right  to  vote and  stand  for election  without  any
discrimination  on  the ground  of  ethnic  origin  or any  other  ground is
safeguarded by law.  All religious groups have  the right to be  represented
in the Communal Chamber of the community to  which they opted to belong  and
the  election of their  representatives in  the House  of Representatives is
guaranteed.  The  Government of Morocco pointed  out that in accordance with
article  12 of  the Constitution  all citizens  have equal  access to public
office.


                  G.  Right of minorities to establish and maintain
                     their own associations

18.  According to  information provided by the  Government of Cyprus,  every
person has the constitutional right to  freedom of association with  others,
including the right  to form and  join trade unions.  The  Government of the
Lao People's  Democratic  Republic pointed  out  that  citizens enjoyed  the
rights of association with others  and of peaceful assembly  if the relevant
activities  are  not  contrary  to  existing  laws  and  regulations.    The
Governments of  the  Czech Republic,  Morocco  and  Ukraine stated  that  30
Romany  civic  associations   and  4  Romany  organizations,  11   Tamazight
associations  and 237  ethno-cultural societies  were established  in  their
respective countries.


H.  Equality before the law

19.  The Government  of Morocco pointed out  that in accordance with article
5 of the revised  Constitution of 4 September 1992, all Moroccans are  equal
before the law and no minority is subject to any form of discrimination.


            I.  Mechanisms, procedure and other measures to promote and
                protect the rights of persons belonging to minorities

20.   The Government  of  Cyprus stated  that  it  had introduced  into  its
national  legislation  the prohibition  of acts  amounting to  incitement to
discrimination, hostility,  hatred  and  violence on  account of  ethnic  or
racial origin or  for religious  reasons.  The  Government of Spain  pointed
out  that it has included  a new aggravating  circumstance into the Criminal
Code regarding offences against persons and property  where the act has been
committed on  racist, anti-Semitic or other  grounds relating  to the ethnic
or national origin, ideology,  religion or beliefs of the victim.  The Czech
Republic mentioned that education in democracy,  tolerance and human  rights
was  added to  the  primary  and secondary  school curricula.    The Russian
Federation  is  currently  elaborating  a  draft  law  on  national-cultural
autonomy in  the  Federation  which would  guarantee democratic  rights  for
Russian minorities irrespective of where they live. 


J.  Commitments under international treaties and agreements

21.  The  Governments of Cyprus,  the Czech Republic,  Denmark, Germany  and
Spain have  recently signed the Council  of Europe  framework Convention for
the  Protection of  National Minorities,  thus clearly  demonstrating  their
commitment to the protection of national  minorities in general (for further
details about  the provisions of the  framework Convention,  see the section
on the Council of  Europe below).   In addition, the Russian Federation  has
signed a number of treaties with other States, including the Declaration  on
the  principles of cooperation  with the  Republic of  Hungary on guarantees
for the rights of national or  ethnic, religious and linguistic  minorities.
Spain  has  adopted  the  Organization  Act   providing  for  the  necessary
measures, in accordance with domestic law,  to comply with the establishment
of  an  international  tribunal  for  the  purpose  of  prosecuting  persons
responsible  for  various  violations  of  international  humanitarian   law
committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.


               III.  ACTIVITIES OF THE RELEVANT ORGANS AND BODIES OF
                     THE UNITED NATIONS GIVING DUE REGARD TO THE
                     DECLARATION IN THE EXECUTION OF THEIR MANDATES

A.  Commission on Human Rights

22.   The Commission on Human  Rights, at its  fifty-first session in  1995,
considered  the reports  prepared by  the Secretary-General  on the  subject
(A/49/415 and  Add.1 and  E/CN.4/1995/84).   In its  resolution 1995/24  the
Commission, noting  with  appreciation  the working  paper prepared  by  the
Special Rapporteur of the Subcommission  on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection  of   Minorities,  Mr.  AsbjFrn  Eide  (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/36  and
Corr.1),  containing  suggestions for  a  comprehensive  programme  for  the
prevention of  discrimination  and protection  of minorities,  took note  of
General  Assembly resolution 49/192  in which  the Assembly  called upon the
Commission to examine,  as a matter of priority,  ways and means to  promote
and protect effectively   the rights of  persons belonging to minorities, as
set  out  in the  Declaration.    In  addition,  the  Commission decided  to
authorize the request  of the Subcommission, contained in resolution 1994/4,
to establish, initially for a  three-year period, an  intersessional working
group consisting of five of its members  to meet each year for  five working
days in  order to  promote the rights  of persons belonging  to national  or
ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, as  set out in the Declaration,
and in particular to:

  (a)  Review the promotional and  practical realization of the  Declaration
on  the Rights  of Persons  Belonging to  National or Ethnic,  Religious and
Linguistic Minorities;

  (b)    Examine  possible  solutions  to  problems  involving   minorities,
including  the   promotion  of  mutual   understanding  between  and   among
minorities and Governments;

  (c)   Recommend further  measures, as  appropriate, for  the promotion and
protection  of  the rights  of  persons  belonging  to  national or  ethnic,
religious and linguistic minorities.

23.  In  its resolution 1995/31, the  Economic and Social Council authorized
the establishment of this working group.


                 B.  Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination
                     and Protection of Minorities

24.    The  first  session  of  the  working  group  on  minorities  of  the
Subcommission was  held  at the  United Nations  Office  at  Geneva from  28
August to  1  September  1995.    Its  report  will  be  considered  by  the
Subcommission at its forty-eighth session in 1996.

 25.  In paragraph 2  of its resolution 1994/4,  the Subcommission requested
the Secretary-General to invite  Governments and competent intergovernmental
and non-governmental bodies to submit their  comments on the recommendations
contained in addendum 4  to the final report  presented by Mr.  AsbjFrn Eide
on  possible ways and  means of  facilitating the  peaceful and constructive
solution  of  problems involving  minorities (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/34/Add.1-4),
and to  make the  comments available  at  the forty-seventh  session of  the
Subcommission.

26.   In  compliance with  this  request,  the Secretary-General  prepared a
report  (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/33  and Add.1-2)  which  had  relevance  for  the
promotion of  the Declaration.   While  examining what  could be  done on  a
national level to promote ethnic accommodation and prevent ethnic  conflict,
education, language  and cultural policy and  practice were  considered.  In
particular,  it was  pointed out  that  education  policy had  a potentially
great impact  on the  development of  a sense  of mutual  respect and  civic

identity among people.

27.   The  report  also dealt  with  a  fairly  wide spectrum  of  economic,
political and  social policies  which had  a considerable  impact on  ethnic
relations.   The view  was expressed that countries  that were successful in
achieving  rapid  and  broad-based  growth  tended  to  find  it  easier  to
accommodate  the material claims  and aspirations  of various ethnic groups.
However, rising prosperity might also intensify  ethnic competition or  harm
certain  groups.  On the  other hand, policies that  contributed to economic
stagnation  and decline,  thus  intensifying poverty  and  insecurity,  were
likely to exacerbate ethnic tensions and  provided fertile ground for  those
wishing  to  exploit such  tensions.    The  distribution  of resources,  in
addition to  the absolute  increase or  decrease  in prosperity,  was a  key
factor in  the  rise of  discontent.    Strategies that  increased  economic
inequalities,   especially  if   they   coincided  with   ethnic  divisions,
marginalized  certain  groups  and  exacerbated  ethnic  discrimination  and
tension.  It also pointed out that mature modern democracies must take  into
account  social   pluralism  and,  therefore,   seek  a  participatory   and
consensual character.  In  such a system, majority rule was mitigated by the
minority  groups'  right of  access  to  public  decision-making,  coalition
structures  of government,  overrepresentation  of minorities  within  State
institutions,  veto  powers  to  protect  vital  minority  and  other  group
interests, and a spirit  of compromise.  A  non-monolithic conception of the
people  was  a precondition  for  the  enjoyment  of  fair opportunities  by
minority groups in this idea of government.


C.  United Nations Centre for Human Rights

28.   The Centre  for  Human Rights  has  continued  to assist  the  General
Assembly,   the  Economic  and  Social  Council,  the   Commission  and  the
Subcommission in the effective promotion of  the Declaration.  In  addition,
it began  to service the  above-mentioned working group on  minorities.  The
Centre also carries out  research and studies in  this field, assists in the
preparation of the reports of the  Secretary-General, the High  Commissioner
for  Human  Rights  and  special  rapporteurs.    It  also  administers  the
programme  of  advisory services  and technical  assistance relating  to the
promotion  of the  Declaration as requested  by the General  Assembly in its
resolution 49/192.

 29.   In particular, in 1994  and from January  to July 1995,  country-wide
needs assessment missions  were conducted for Armenia, Azerbaijan,  Belarus,
El   Salvador,  Georgia,   Equatorial  Guinea,   Guinea,  Haiti,  Kazakstan,
Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the  Russian Federation, Rwanda and the
United  Republic  of  Tanzania,  designed  to  form  the  basis  of  country
programmes of  technical assistance  in each  of those  States.   During the
mission to the States of the  Caucasus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, the  Republic
of  Moldova, the  Russian  Federation  and  Rwanda, representatives  of  the
Centre held consultations with representatives of national minority  groups,
in order that their views and concerns might be effectively responded to  in
the  Centre's  programme  development  activities  for  those  States.    In
addition,  the members of  the mission  held discussions  on minority issues
with  relevant  government  officials, including  governmental  advisers  on
minority  issues.   As  a result  of  these missions,  the  Centre  produced
comprehensive needs assessment  reports for Armenia, Azerbaijan and  Georgia
each  of which devoted  particular attention  to proposals  for training and
institutional strengthening aimed  at ensuring the effective protection  and
promotion  of  the  rights of  national,  ethnic,  religious  and linguistic
minorities  consistent  with  international   human  rights  standards,   in
particular  with those  embodied in the  Declaration.  The  Centre for Human
Rights  also provided  assistance  in drafting  a law  on the  promotion and
protection of the rights of  persons belonging to minorities  in Georgia and
submitted comments and recommendations on a draft  law on minority rights to
the Republic of Moldova.

30.  A seminar on the  promotion and protection of the  rights of minorities

in  Romania was  held at  Bucharest from  18 to  21  October  1994.   It was
organized in cooperation  with the Romanian Government and participants were
invited  from among the  national minorities  in the  country, national non-
governmental  organizations and governmental institutions.  Issues discussed
included  ethnic and linguistic  rights, as  well as  religious and cultural
rights of minorities.

31.   From June  to December 1994, the  Centre for Human Rights  organized a
seminar  and two  workshops at  Bujumbura.   The specific  objective  of the
seminar  and  one  of  the  workshops   was  to  provide  participants  with
information  on peaceful  conflict-resolution techniques  and on  the use of
legal, administrative  and human rights  institutions for  the settlement of
disputes.  Courses of this nature  were targeted to both relevant government
agencies and  to certain groups  in society such  as trade  unions, minority
groups,  NGOs  and  political parties.    The  role  and  functions  of  the
judiciary, national human  rights institutions, administrative agencies  and
alternative dispute-resolution  mechanisms were also  important topics.   It
may  be recalled  that the  Commission  on Human  Rights, in  its resolution
1993/24,  called  upon the  programme  of  advisory services  and  technical
assistance  of  the  Centre  for  Human  Rights  to  make  available  expert
assistance,  inter  alia,  in  the  area  of  conflict  resolution involving
minorities.


D.  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

32.   Activities aimed  at the  promotion and  protection of  the rights  of
persons  belonging to minorities constitute an integral and significant part
of  the  High  Commissioner's  mandate  as   set  out  in  General  Assembly
resolution 48/141 by which the Assembly  decided that the High  Commissioner
for  Human  Rights would  be  the  United  Nations  official with  principal
responsibility  for  United  Nations  human  rights  activities  under   the
direction and  authority of  the Secretary-General,  and entrusted him  with
the responsibility for, inter  alia, promoting and  protecting the effective
enjoyment by  all of  all civil,  cultural, economic,  political and  social
rights;  providing,   through  the  Centre  for   Human  Rights  and   other
appropriate  institutions, advisory  services  and technical  and  financial
assistance;  coordinating  relevant  United  Nations  education  and  public
information programmes in  the field of human rights; engaging in a dialogue
with  all Governments in the  implementation of his/her  mandate with a view
to securing respect for all human rights;  and coordinating the human rights
promotion and  protection activities throughout  the United Nations  system.
The General Assembly has  further decided to give to the High Commissioner a
specific  mandate  relating  to  the  protection  of  minorities.    In  its
resolution 49/192,  the Assembly  entrusted the High  Commissioner with  the
responsibility  to promote the implementation of the principles contained in
the Declaration on the  Rights of Persons Belonging  to National or  Ethnic,
Religious and Linguistic Minorities and to continue to engage in a  dialogue
with Governments concerned for that purpose.
33.   Protecting  the  rights of  persons belonging  to national  or ethnic,
religious  and  linguistic  minorities is  an imperative  deriving  from the
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.   The World Conference on  Human
Rights reaffirmed the obligation of States  to ensure that persons belonging
to minorities  may  exercise fully  and  effectively  all human  rights  and
fundamental  freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before
the  law  in  accordance  with  the  Declaration on  the  Rights  of Persons
Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious  and Linguistic Minorities.   The
World  Conference further stated that those persons have  the right to enjoy
their own  culture, to profess and  practise their own  religion and to  use
their  own   language  in  private  and   in  public,   freely  and  without
interference or any form of discrimination.

34.  It is in the  spirit of the Vienna Declaration  and Programme of Action
that the  High Commissioner situates his  activities relating  to the rights
of minorities.  He has repeatedly stressed that the peaceful coexistence  of
minorities, the harmonious relations among  communities and respect for each

group's  identity  are great  assets to  the multi-ethnic  and multicultural
mosaic of  our global  society.   Every  individual, every  group and  every
nation finds  richness in  diversity and  can benefit  from  an exchange  of
ideas, experiences and views.  However,  the coexistence of different groups
is  not always peaceful,  and problems relating to  minorities are today one
of  the  major  sources of  international and  internal  conflicts involving
widespread  and  at  times  massive  human  rights  violations  with  severe
repercussions for the peace  and stability of the community of nations.   In
this multidimensional context, the question of the protection and  promotion
of the human  rights of persons belonging  to national or ethnic,  religious
and  linguistic minorities is  of overriding  importance for  the respect of
human  rights generally  and  central  to  the promotion  of  understanding,
tolerance and solidarity between and among communities and Governments.

35.   At  the Fourteenth  Regional  Conference  of European  United  Nations
Associations (Geneva,  7-9  November  1994),  speaking on  the  question  of
minority rights, the  High Commissioner stressed that  the State must be the
common home of all ethnic,  religious and linguistic groups  residing in its
territory;  those groups  must enjoy  de facto  equality  and none  of their
members  should  be  a  second-class  citizen.    He  also  stated  that  in
situations  where  there  was  no  declared  conflict,  there  were  several
mechanisms  and institutions that  could play  a preventive  role by seeking
constructive  solutions.   In  that  respect, the  bodies set  up  under the
United Nations  international conventions  relating to human rights  all had
an  important role  to  play,  one which  could in  fact be  strengthened in
accordance with the spirit of the Declaration.

36.  The High  Commissioner wishes to  continue to engage in a  constructive
dialogue with Governments  to campaign for  the promotion and implementation
of the Declaration and other  relevant international instruments;  to appeal
for the full respect  of the rights  of persons belonging to minorities;  to
contribute  to the promotion  of human  rights education;  to offer advisory
and technical  assistance to strengthen  the national instruments to protect
the rights of persons  belonging to minorities;  and promptly to respond  to
emergency  situations  involving minorities.    The  High  Commissioner  has
referred to issues relating to minorities as complex  human problems and has
appealed  for full  respect for  the human  rights of  persons belonging  to
minorities as expressed  in the  Declaration, the International Covenant  on
Civil  and  Political  Rights  and  other  international  instruments.    In
addition, he has appealed for  government policies that would respond to the
legitimate  expectations of  all people  living  in  the country  and enable
everyone to feel  secure in his/her  rights.  In the activities  of the High
Commissioner  relating  to  Rwanda,  Burundi  and  the  former   Yugoslavia,
problems  concerning  the protection  of  persons  belonging  to  minorities
remain  high  on  the  agenda.    More information  on  those  activities is
contained in  his report  to the  Commission on  Human Rights at  its fifty-
first session (E/CN.4/1995/98).  Relevant information will also be  included
in his  report to the present session  of the General  Assembly.  During his
country visits, the High Commissioner, in addition  to government officials,
meets and exchanges views with representatives of minority groups.

37.    The   High  Commissioner  develops  cooperation  with   international
organizations, including regional organizations, aimed at the promotion  and
protection  of  the  rights  of  persons  belonging  to  minorities  and the
resolution of problems related thereto.   He is undertaking activities aimed
at an  effective  coordination  of the  cooperation between  United  Nations
organs and bodies in this area,  including the flow of relevant information,
exchange of  experience and joint activities.   The  coordination of efforts
should enable these organs and bodies to work as a system.

38.   The High  Commissioner intends  to strengthen  further the  minorities
component  of the activities of  the Centre for  Human Rights, including the
programme of  advisory services and technical  assistance; to  set up within
the  United Nations system an  information system for the  protection of the
rights of  persons belonging  to minorities;  to place  emphasis on  various
aspects of  the protection of the  rights of persons belonging to minorities

and  on  minorityrelated conflict  resolution  in  human  rights  education,
including the implementation of the activities  of the United Nations Decade
for Human Rights Education; and to  provide full logistical and  substantive
support to the Subcommission's working group on minorities.

39.   In the view of the High Commissioner, further progress in the field of
the protection  of minorities  depends on  concerted efforts  by Governments
and international and  non-governmental organizations aimed at the  creation
of  a  culture  open  to  understanding  the  richness  that   exists  in  a
multicultural  and multi-ethnic society.   The  protection of  the rights of
persons belonging to  minorities, based on  mutual tolerance and acceptance,
promises to  open new  perspectives  free of  the disasters  common to  many
regions  of the world.   The  Centre for Human Rights,  in close cooperation
with  other bodies  and  organs of  the  United  Nations,  is available  for
developing  activities  aimed at  facilitating  the  full  participation  of
persons  belonging   to  national  or   ethnic,  religious  and   linguistic
minorities in all aspects of the  political, economic, social, religious and
cultural  life  of  their  societies  and   in  the  economic  progress  and
development of their countries.

40.  The High  Commissioner also takes action  with regard to  minorities in
the broader  context of the rise of  xenophobia and new  forms of racial and
ethnic  discrimination   and  of  reported   attacks  on  migrant   workers,
immigrants, asylumseekers  and refugees.   He  has received assurances  that
the authorities concerned are determined to  take the necessary measures  to
deal with  such  manifestations.  In  that  context,  the  European  Union's
declaration  on the subject adopted at  the Corfu Summit  in June 1994 is to
be welcomed.


IV.  SPECIALIZED AGENCIES

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

41.   One of  UNESCO's mandates  is to  contribute to  the struggle  against
discrimination  in all  its fields  of competence  including  discrimination
against  persons belonging to  minorities.   A number  of UNESCO's standard-
setting instruments  concerning cultural  rights cover  this subject  fairly
comprehensively  and embrace individuals,  regions, groups, peoples, nation-
States and even humankind in  general.  Recognizing that States should first
of all  create conditions and provide  guarantees for  the implementation of
cultural rights, not only to eliminate  discrimination but also to undertake
affirmative action, UNESCO's  standard-setting instruments stress  that this
responsibility should be shared with other social actors.

42.   Of particular  importance in  this  respect is  the UNESCO  Convention
against Discrimination in  Education (1960) which provides for protection of
the  educational rights  of  minorities  and  individuals.   Similarly,  the
UNESCO  Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice  (1978) contains provisions
for promoting non-discriminatory  practices.  These instruments, as well  as
the  Recommendation  Concerning  Education for  International Understanding,
Cooperation   and  Peace  and   Education  relating   to  Human  Rights  and
Fundamental Freedoms (1974) are monitored by  way of periodic collection  of
information as regards their implementation in the member States.

43.   It is  also pertinent  to mention  that in  decision 3.3 taken  at its
104th session (September-October 1977), the  Executive Board of  UNESCO laid
down the procedures for the examination of cases  and questions submitted to
UNESCO  concerning  the  violation  of  human   rights  in  its  fields   of
competence.

44.  UNESCO continues to  implement activities relating to the protection of
the cultural rights  of persons belonging to minorities, following  decision
4.41 taken by the  Executive Board at  its 144th session in April-May  1994,
at which the Executive Board noted  with satisfaction the ongoing activities
of the organization in that regard.

45.  UNESCO is  at present collecting  material on national legislation  and
policies  concerning the protection  of the  rights of  persons belonging to
minorities,  in  order  to  gain  a  better  perception  of  the  status  of
protection given  at the  national/local level.   The  organization is  also
gathering information on bilateral arrangements for such protection.   These
could  provide the  bases for  further  reflections  and activities  in this
field.

46.   A notable activity  relates to  the preparation  of a manual  on human
rights  teaching in  institutions of  higher  education.   The  manual would
contain a  chapter on  the rights  of persons belonging  to minorities,  and
thereby contribute to educational action in this field.

47.   During  the coming  biennium  1996-1997,  UNESCO will  give particular
attention to  the prevention of  discrimination against persons belonging to
disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, notably in  the sphere of education and
culture.    With  a  view  to   promoting  the  implementation  of  UNESCO's
Convention  and Recommendation  against Discrimination in  Education, member
States  will  be  provided  with  a  compilation  of  examples  of  national
education laws, policies  and measures against discrimination in  education,
with  particular emphasis on  the educational  and cultural  rights of women
and girls, refugees, migrants and persons belonging to minorities.

48.  UNESCO has contributed to the safeguard  of a common heritage  composed
of several  cultures as  well as  the promotion  of  artistic expression  of
groups  or  persons belonging  to  different  cultural  communities.   Pilot
projects to promote the cultural activities  of nomads have been implemented
in order to demonstrate that those  cultures, linking their originality  and
creativity  to  their adoptive  societies,  constitute  immense  sources  of
richness for humanity.

49.   UNESCO  has also  made  an intellectual  contribution further  to  the
request of research institutions and multicultural or intercultural  centres
involved  in the  daily management  of  the  phenomenon of  social exclusion
arising from  cultural discrimination.   Moral  and  technical support  have
been  provided  to  the  launching  and  coordination  of  projects  on  the
religious  or  cultural convergence  within  various  multi-ethnic  nations.
Certain key issues were identified:

  (a)    Creating  a  way  to  encourage  dialogue  between  minorities  and
Governments;

  (b)   Enabling Governments  to review  and explore  the recommendations of
AsbjFrn  Eide and the  Declaration, including  the implementation  by United
Nations agencies and bodies;

  (c)  Facilitating the effective promotion  of the Declaration and  AsbjFrn
Eide's recommendations;

   (d)  Ensuring that Governments (and, where possible, minorities)  explore
models  of good  practice including  the internationalization  standards  on
minorities;

  (e)  Entering into  a dialogue with treaty  bodies on the  Declaration and
AsbjFrn Eide's recommendations;

  (f)   Seeking to  incorporate the  issue of  minority rights appropriately
into all existing United Nations mechanisms.


V.  TREATY BODIES

A.  Human Rights Committee

50.  The Human  Rights Committee continued to monitor the observance of  the
International  Covenant on Civil  and Political  Rights.   It considered and

commented  on  a  number  of  reports  submitted by  States  parties  to the
Covenant, with specific reference to the  implementation of article 27.  The
Committee, in its interpretation of the  implementation by States parties of
article 27 and in  its observations, suggestions  and recommendations,  took
into  account General  Comment No.  23(50) adopted by  the Committee  at its
fiftieth session on 6 April  1994.  The  Committee referred to the issue  of
minorities in its consideration of the  periodic reports at its fifty-fourth
session  of, among others,  Ukraine, Latvia,  Tunisia, Morocco,  New Zealand
and the United States of America.

51.   In its  dialogue with  States parties,  the Committee  requested on  a
number of occasions clarification  of the measures taken with respect to the
implementation  of article 27  in the  light of its General  Comment No. 23.
In certain cases, the Committee regretted that the  necessary steps to adopt
legislative and  other measures to  give effect to  article 27  had not been
taken and that  the level of  the protection of minorities was  still not in
conformity with the Covenant.

52.   At  its fifty-second  session, the Committee  considered Communication
No. 511/1992,  Ilmari Lansman et al. v. Finland, under  article 5, paragraph
4,  of the  Optional Protocol  to the  International Covenant  on Civil  and
Political Rights.   The authors of  the communication are Ilmari Lansman and
47 other  members of the Muotkatunturi  Herdsmen's Committee  and members of
the Angeli local community.  The authors affirm  that the quarrying of stone
on the  flank  of  the  Etela-Riutusvaara mountain  and  its  transportation
through  their reindeerherding  territory would  violate their  right  under
article 27  of the Covenant,  in particular their  right to  enjoy their own
culture,  which  has traditionally  been and  remains  essentially based  on
reindeer  husbandry.   In  the  light  of the  information  provided by  the
parties and of paragraph 7 of its General Comment No. 23 on article 27,  the
Committee  concluded that quarrying  on the  slopes of  Mount Riutusvaara in
the amount that had already  taken place did not constitute  a denial of the
authors' right,  under  article 27,  to enjoy  their own  culture, and  thus
found no breach of article 27 or any other provision of the Covenant.



 B.  Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

53.  While the  International Convention on the  Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination  does not  contain any article  aimed specifically  at
the  promotion and protection of  the rights of minorities,  article 2(2) is
of relevance  to ethnic  or racial  groups as  it imposes  an obligation  on
States parties  to undertake affirmative action  in respect  of groups which
have  suffered from  discriminatory practices.   According  to article  2(2)
States  must take  affirmative action  "when the circumstances  so warrant".
In  respect of the  applicability of  this article  in situations  where the
Government  concerned denies  the  identity  or  existence of  a  particular
group,  it seems that  the practice  of the Committee on  the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination tends  towards the applicability of broad criteria  of
assessment.

54.  At its forty-sixth session in March 1995, the Committee considered  the
question  of the  nature of  the right  to self-determination  of ethnic  or
religious  groups  or minorities.    During  the  discussion,  the view  was
expressed that  Governments should, in accordance  with article  2(2) of the
Convention, be sensitive to the  aspirations of ethnic  groups, particularly
their rights to lead  lives of dignity, to preserve their cultures, to share
equitably in the  fruits of national growth  and to play  their part  in the
government  of   the  countries   of  which  their  members   are  citizens.
Governments  should   consider,  within   their  respective   constitutional
frameworks, vesting ethnic or linguistic groups  of their citizens, with the
affairs  which  are  particularly  relevant  to  the  preservation  of   the
identities  of such groups.   The Committee expressed its  opposition to the
fragmentation  of States  and stressed  the  importance  of adhering  to the
principles of international law concerning secession.

55.  At its  forty-sixth session in March 1995 and its forty-seventh session
in August  1995,  the  Committee considered  periodic reports  submitted  by
States parties and made observations on  the various measures undertaken  by
certain States with a  view to the  promotion of racial or ethnic  tolerance
among communities.  Particular measures were  referred to in the  concluding
observations with regard to the periodic  reports of, among others, Belarus,
Croatia, Guatemala,  Italy, New  Zealand, Nicaragua,  Nigeria, Romania,  Sri
Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.  The Committee adopted two decisions  on
Burundi 6(46) and 1(47), one on Rwanda  7(46), two on Papua New Guinea 8(46)
and 3(47) and one on Bosnia and Herzegovina 2(47).


VI.  SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS

56.  In a number of cases, special  rapporteurs appointed by United  Nations
human  rights organs  to  investigate  human rights  situations in  specific
regions and countries  and on thematic  issues have addressed the  rights of
persons  belonging   to  national  or   ethnic,  religious  and   linguistic
minorities within their mandates or have  been confronted with violations of
the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

57.    The  Special  Rapporteur  on  contemporary  forms  of  racism, racial
discrimination,  xenophobia  and related  intolerance,  Mr.  Maurice  Glele-
Ahanhanzo, in  his  report to  the  Commission  at its  fifty-first  session
(E/CN.4/1995/78)  referred,  inter alia,  to  minority  situations  and  the
promotion and  protection of the rights  of persons  belonging to minorities
in Australia and the Federal Republic  of Yugoslavia.  In his  report on the
mission    he    undertook    to    the    United    States    of    America
(E/CN.4/1995/78/Add.1), "The Special Rapporteur found sociological  inertia,
structural obstacles  and individual resistance  hindering the emergence  of
an integrated  society based  on the  equal dignity  of the  members of  the
American nation and willing to accept  ethnic and cultural pluralism" (para.
112).    In  his conclusions  and recommendations,  he  stressed that:   "It
should be  recognized that  when persons  from ethnic  minorities aspire  to
equal treatment, they are  not asking for favours, but seeking to enjoy  the
rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution in  their daily lives by
virtue of  their status as  full citizens or  lawful residents" (para.  112,
rec. 2).

58.   The  Special  Rapporteur  on the  situation  of  human rights  in  the
territory  of the former  Yugoslavia, Mr.  Tadeusz Mazowiecki,  in his tenth
periodic  report  (E/CN.4/1995/57, paras.  92-97),  addressed  the  reported
discrimination against  the Bulgarian  minority in  Serbia in  the areas  of
education, the  media, and  the maintenance of  their own associations.   He
also addressed the issue  of the treatment of  Croatian nationals of Serbian
origin.     In  his  final  periodic  report  (E/CN.4/1996/9),  the  Special
Rapporteur  described  the   situation  of  minorities  living  in   various
localities  of  the  former  Yugoslavia   and  made  special   reference  to
discrimination  against minorities in the field of education.  He noted that
there are reports that  education in the mother tongue of the minorities  is
being systematically  eliminated and that the Bulgarian, Hungarian and Croat
minorities face  difficulties in  maintaining an  education system  which is
acceptable  to their culture.   The  Special Rapporteur  also mentioned that
all  minorities reportedly  experience discrimination  and  violence against
their cultural and religious institutions.

59.    The  Special  Rapporteur   on  extrajudicial,  summary  or  arbitrary
executions, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, in his  report (E/CN.4/1995/61) mentioned
that in a number of cases  that had come before him  in 1994, it was alleged
that  the victims subjected  to death  threats or  extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions belonged  to national, ethnic, religious or  linguistic
minorities.  Such cases were said to have occurred in 19 countries.

60.  The  Special Rapporteur for  the implementation of  the Declaration  on
the Elimination of All  Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based  on
Religion  or Belief in  his report  (E/CN.4/1995/91) referred  to reports of

discrimination  against  religious  minorities.    In  his  conclusions  and
recommendations,  the  Special Rapporteur  once  again  deplored  frequently
serious  infringements of  the  rights  of  persons belonging  to  religious
minorities in  countries with an  official or  clearly predominant  majority
religion.


VII.  INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

A.  Council of Europe

61.   In  accordance  with  the  declaration  of  the  heads  of  State  and
Government  of the  member  States  of the  Council of  Europe adopted  at a
summit conference  held on  8 and  9 October  1993,  a framework  convention
specifying the principles which the contracting States committed  themselves
to  respect in  order to  assure the protection  of national  minorities was
drafted and adopted by the Committee of Ministers  on 10 November 1994.  The
framework Convention  for the Protection of  National Minorities was  opened
for signature  on  1  February  1995 and  has  already  been signed  by  the
following  States:   Austria,  Cyprus,  Czech  Republic,  Denmark,  Estonia,
Finland, Germany, Hungary,  Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia,  Liechtenstein,
Lithuania,  Malta,  Netherlands,  Norway,  Poland,  Portugal,  Romania,  San
Marino,  Slovakia, Spain,  Sweden, Switzerland  and  the United  Kingdom  of
Great Britain  and Northern Ireland; it  has also been  ratified by Romania.
It is  the first  ever  legally binding  multilateral instrument  protecting
national  minorities  in  general.    The  Convention  contains   provisions
covering a wide range of areas:   non-discrimination; promotion of effective
equality;  promotion  of  the  conditions  regarding  the  preservation  and
development  of  culture  and  the preservation  of  religion;  language and
traditions;  freedoms   of  assembly,   association,  expression,   thought,
conscience  and  religion;  access  to  and  use  of  the  media; linguistic
freedoms;    education;    transfrontier   contacts;    international    and
transfrontier cooperation; participation  in economic,  cultural and  social
life;  participation  in  public   life;  and  the   prohibition  of  forced
assimilation. The  adequacy of  the measures  taken by  the parties  to give
effect to  the  principles are  evaluated  by  the Committee  of  Ministers,
assisted  by  an  advisory  committee,  on  the  basis  of  periodic reports
submitted by the States parties.

62.   The  Summit Conference  also entrusted  the Committee  of Ministers to
begin work on drafting an additional protocol  to the European Convention on
Human  Rights  in the  cultural  field  containing  provisions  guaranteeing
individual  rights,  in   particular  for  persons  belonging  to   national
minorities.   The  drafting process  of this  additional protocol  is to  be
completed by the end of 1995. 

63.  These instruments are a valuable supplement  to the European Convention
on Human Rights and the European Charter for regional or minority  languages
which was  opened for signature by  member States on 5  November 1992.   The
Charter, which  will  enter into  force  upon  ratification by  five  member
States,  has, as  at 1  June 1995,  been  ratified  by Finland,  Hungary and
Norway  and signed  by  Austria, Cyprus,  Denmark,  Germany,  Liechtenstein,
Luxembourg, Malta,  the Netherlands,  Spain and  Switzerland.   The  Charter
lays down objectives and  principles to be respected by States and  proposes
concrete  measures  to  put them  into effect  in  the fields  of education,
courts of law,  administrative authorities  and public services, the  media,
cultural facilities and economic and social life.


 B.  European Commission on Human Rights

64.   It should  be recalled that  the European Convention  on Human  Rights
does not  lay down any specific  minority rights.   Important considerations
in respect  of the  Convention include  the following.   Its text  refers to
"national  minorities" only  in article  14; non-discrimination  can only be
inferred  with  respect  to any  of the  other  articles of  the Convention.

Although  "language"  is one  of  the  grounds  on  which discrimination  is
prohibited under article 14,  the right to the use of a particular  language
in contacts with the  authorities is not generally  guaranteed.  Article  25
recognizes   the   right  of   petition   of  "persons",   "non-governmental
organizations" and  "groups of  individuals"; with reference  to the  latter
two categories,  each member of  the group must  be affected  by the alleged
violation  of the  Convention.   The  possibility  of complaining  about the
treatment of  a minority  as such exists  in the context  of an  inter-State
application under article 24 (e.g. Cyprus  v. Turkey which concerned,  inter
alia, the treatment  of the enclaved Greek  Cypriot population in the  north
of Cyprus).

65.   With reference  to the  case  law dealing  specifically with  minority
situations, the following may be mentioned:

  (a)  In  a case  concerning a linguistic census  in Austria, in which  the
applicant claimed to belong to the Slovene minority although he did not  use
the Slovene language, the Commission considered  that there was no violation
of the Convention  as the protection of  individual members of  a linguistic
minority is  limited to  the right not  to be discriminated  against in  the
enjoyment  of the  rights  contained in  the  Convention on  the  ground  of
belonging to the minority;

  (b)  In several  cases the Commission denied  that a right  to "linguistic
freedom" was enshrined in  the Convention.  In  two cases concerning the use
of  the  Slovene and  the  Flemish  languages  respectively  in civil  court
procedures, the Commission considered it relevant that the legal  provisions
on court language  were complied with and  that the applicants had bilingual
lawyers. Similarly, in a case concerning the refusal of a criminal court  in
France to hear witnesses in the  Breton language, the Commission  considered
that there were no violations  of article 6, paragraph 1, or of article  14,
since the Convention did not  guarantee the right of witnesses to speak in a
language of their choice  and the witnesses had  not claimed that  they were
unable  to speak French.   In  three other cases,  the Commission considered
that a  right to "linguistic freedom"  could not be  derived from article  9
(freedom of  thought and conscience) or  article 10  (freedom of expression)
as the applicants were not prevented  from expressing their thoughts  freely
in the  language  of their  choice.    Concerning elections  to  legislative
bodies   established  according  to   linguistic  criteria,  the  Commission
considered  that non-representation of the minority constitutes  a breach of
article 3 of the  First Protocol to the  Convention, but the  Court did  not
confirm this view.   It held that the  compulsion to vote for candidates who
belong  to  either  one  or  the  other  language  group  in  the   national
parliamentary institutions  and to the  corresponding community council  was
not a disproportionate limitation  on the free expression  of the opinion of
the people in the choice of the legislature;

   (c)   In  areas not  covered by  the special  provisions, the  Convention
organs have concluded a contrario  that no right to the use of a  particular
language is guaranteed  by the Convention to citizens in their contacts with
the authorities
for  administrative proceedings in  general, concerning  the use of language
in municipal councils and social service  assistance centres, and concerning
the language used for the registration of a  minority party wishing to  take
part in elections;

  (d)  In a  case concerning alleged discrimination  of Lapps as  a minority
in  Norway, the  Commission again  confirmed  that  the Convention  does not
guarantee specific  rights to minorities.   It observed  that the applicants
had the right to  vote and stand for  elections to the  Norwegian Parliament
but stressed that  Lapps have no secured  representation for themselves.  In
further cases concerning Lapps in Norway,  the Commission recognized that  a
particular  life-style of  a minority  is protected  by  article 8  as being
"private  life", "family  life"  or  "home".   The  issue in  this case  was
whether the construction  of a  hydroelectric power station interfered  with
the lives  of fishermen and reindeer  breeders.  The Commission rejected the

applicants' complaints  under article  14 as  there was  no indication  that
they were treated in a manner  which could be considered discrimination, nor
had they been forced to abandon their life-styles.   The same principle  was
subsequently  repeatedly confirmed  in cases  concerning caravan  sites  for
Gypsies.   In  most  cases,  the contested  measures  were found  to  be  in
conformity with the provision of article 8, paragraph  2.  However, a breach
of the Convention was  for the first  time established by the Commission  in
its report  of 11 January 1995 on  a case involving the United Kingdom which
has recently been referred to the Court;

  (e)   The Commission  also considered cases  where a cultural  identity is
derived from the fact  that the applicant belongs  to a particular religious
group.  The Commission approached these  on a case-by-case basis  in respect
of article 9, paragraph 2.   An important distinction which is being made in
this respect is whether  a particular practice is  an essential part  of the
manifestation  of  religion.   Not every  act  influenced by  a religion  or
belief is recognized  as a "practice" within the  meaning of article 9  and,
accordingly, the protection of article  14 cannot be invoked.  In a case  in
which  the applicant  had sought  to bring  criminal  charges in  the United
Kingdom  against the author and  publisher of The Satanic  Verses, the Court
ruled that  there was  no protection  of Muslims  against blasphemy  against
their  religion   by  a  publication  and   that  articles  9  and  14  were
inapplicable.  However, religious discrimination contrary to article 14  can
be invoked where  another Convention right  is at  issue.   In another  case
involving  Austria, the  Court  considered it  as  discriminatory,  invoking
article 14 in conjunction with article 8, in a child custody case  to make a
distinction  between the  parents on the  ground of their  religion, i.e the
possible  effects on  the  social life  of the  children concerned  of their
being  associated  with  a  particular  religious  minority (in  this  case,
Jehovah's Witnesses).   The Commission  considered that  it is  incompatible
with the  concept  of  a  pluralist society  to  assume  that members  of  a
minority group will automatically be socially marginalized;

  (f)   With  regard  to  religious education,  the Court  in  several cases
determined that States are required to  provide for exemptions for  children
who  do not  belong to  the majority  religion.    The system  of regulating
access to  school according to linguistic  criteria was,  however, not found
to be in breach of article  14.  This was confirmed in a number of follow-up
cases.    The  Commission  also considered  that  the right  claimed  by the
applicants to have the  imprint of their own  personality and of the culture
they  acknowledge  as  their  own  take   first  place  among  the   factors
conditioning  the   education  of  their   children,  in  order  that  their
children's thinking should  not become alien to  their own, was outside  the
scope of articles 9 and 10;

  (g)   The question  of interference  with the  expression of  a particular
culture has hardly  ever arisen in the Strasbourg case law.  In  the case of
alleged discrimination against the Slovene minority  in Austria by virtue of
the  failure to license a private radio station and an alleged insufficiency
of programmes  on the  public broadcasting  system, the  Commission did  not
find elements of discrimination; the Court did not express an opinion;

  (h)  Several cases decided by  the Commission concerned special protection
of particular  minorities under national law  and resultant restrictions  on
the freedom  of expression  of persons  not belonging  to those  minorities.
The  Commission  considered  such  restrictions  as  being  justified  under
article 10,  paragraph 2,  of the  Convention.   In the  case of  defamatory
remarks  made against Gypsies  in Germany,  the Commission  found that there
had been no interference with individual rights.


VIII.  NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

66.    Caritas Internationalis  mentioned  that  the situation  of  minority
groups  was of  great concern  to the  organization, and  some of  Caritas's
member  organizations were very  much involved  in assisting  such groups in

defending the dignity of  their members.   The World Muslim Congress  stated
that, through their  branches throughout the  world, greater awareness about
the  rights  of  minorities  was  being   promoted  and  the  abolition   of
discriminatory laws called for.


IX.  CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

67.   In view  of the small  number of  replies received by  the Centre  for
Human Rights and the lack of  substantive information contained therein,  it
is difficult  to arrive at conclusions  of a general nature which accurately
represent  the measures  taken  to  give effect  to the  Declaration  by the
international  community as  a whole.    In  particular, it  seems that  the
replies  focused mainly  on the  constitutional and  legislative  provisions
protecting and  promoting  the rights  of persons  belonging to  minorities,
with many  Governments listing  relevant legislation  at length.   It  would
have been  more useful for the  purposes of this  report if Governments  had
submitted substantive  information on the actual  measures taken to  protect
minorities,  including any  affirmative action undertaken to  give effect to
the Declaration.   It  should thus  be underscored  that what  is needed  is
information about the practical implementation of the Declaration.

68.   It would  therefore seem  indispensable for the  preparation of future
reports on the subject,  and in order to provide a more accurate overview of
the  measures   taken  to   implement  the   principles  contained   in  the
Declaration, that  a greater number of  States submit  relevant and complete
information in response to the request of the Secretary-General.

69.   Evidence that minority  rights in general  and their implementation in
particular are  vital issues  is manifested  in the  consideration of  those
issues and related proposals  made at the Commission on Human Rights and the
Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of  Minorities.
Those  proposals,   in  particular   the  ones   made  by   non-governmental
organizations and included in  the report of the Secretary-General submitted
to  the Subcommission  at its  forty-seventh session  (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/33,
paras.  69-74),  may  be considered  as  conducive  to  furthering  concrete
measures to  be taken by the  relevant United  Nations organs, organizations
and  bodies  and by  Governments themselves  aimed at  the promotion  of the
Declaration.

70.    The Commission  on Human  Rights  and  subsequently the  Economic and
Social Council authorized the Subcommission on Prevention of  Discrimination
and Protection  of Minorities  to establish  a working  group on  minorities
with the  mandate referred to  above.  It  is hoped that  the working  group
becomes  a genuine  forum  for  dialogue and  mutual  understanding  between
Governments  and minorities and that possible solutions to minority problems
will be found.

71.  As the  United Nations High  Commissioner for Human Rights stated  with
reference to the role  of the United Nations in situations where there is no
declared conflict, the bodies set up  under the United Nations international
conventions  relating to human  rights all have  an important  role to play,
which could  in fact be strengthened  in accordance with  the spirit of  the
Declaration. The  role of the High  Commissioner is  especially important in
developing networks  of cooperation with  international and regional  bodies
on the issue of minority protection.

72.   The High Commissioner  will continue to  pay particular  attention, in
his ongoing dialogue with Governments, to  issues involving minorities.   He
will pursue  the task entrusted  to him to  provide, through  the Centre for
Human Rights  and other  appropriate institutions,  programmes of  technical
assistance and advisory services and  to promote activities in  the field of
information and education on issues concerning minorities.

73.  UNESCO  described the wide range of  activities it is undertaking  with
respect to the protection of minorities,  especially in the cultural  field,

which  serve  as  a  basis  for  further  reflection  and  action.    UNESCO
recommended, in  particular, that  the ongoing  dialogue between  minorities
and Governments be  encouraged, that  the recommendations  contained in  the
report  of Mr.  AsbjFrn  Eide  and the  text  of the  Declaration be  widely
disseminated,  and  that  all  relevant  issues  concerning  minorities   be
incorporated into the United Nations procedures and mechanisms.

74.   With reference to the Human  Rights Committee and the Committee on the
Elimination  of  Racial  Discrimination, it  is  important  to  stress  that
countries  should  continue to  include in  their periodic  reports measures
taken  with  regard  to  the  protection and  promotion  of  the  rights  of
minorities, with particular  reference to  article 27  of the  International
Covenant  on Civil and  Political Rights  and General Comment No.  23 of the
Committee on  article 27, and the  relevant provisions  of the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

75.   The  information  provided  by  special  rapporteurs  illustrates  the
vulnerability of  minority  groups and  the  urgent  need for  every  United
Nations  body to  focus its  attention on  the  treatment accorded  to these
groups within the framework of its respective mandate.

76.  Coordination of  the activities of the  organs and organizations of the
United Nations system should be further  encouraged and properly financed as
recommended  to  the  Secretary-General by  the  World  Conference on  Human
Rights.  Given  the recommendations  of  the  World  Conference,  high-level
officials  of the relevant  United Nations  bodies and  specialized agencies
should,  at their annual meetings, assess the impact of their strategies and
policies on the enjoyment  of all human rights,  and it would seem desirable
and appropriate  that those  officials consider  coordination between  their
programmes aimed at  the promotion and protection  of the rights  of persons
belonging  to minorities.   Those  organs and  organizations,  in particular
ILO, UNHCR,  UNESCO and UNICEF, should  be encouraged  to submit information
on the subject regularly.

77.   The  activities of  the Council  of Europe  ideally complement,  on  a
regional  basis, those  of  the United  Nations  in  the  field of  minority
protection.   It  would be  important  that  such regional  arrangements  be
adopted  by other  regional organizations  as well, as  they can  in certain
circumstances provide a more appropriate regional  focus to the solution  of
minority  problems.   Ongoing  cooperation between  the  United  Nations and
regional organizations on the issue of  minority protection is of particular
importance.

78.   A  greater  number  of  non-governmental  organizations  could  submit
information  about their  activities  contributing to  the  application  and
realization  of   the  Declaration  and  assist   in  the   efforts  at  the
international and national levels to achieve  positive results in regard  to
the  protection of  minorities that  may or  may  not  be covered  by United
Nations instruments.


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Date last posted: 18 December 1999 16:30:10
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