On the occasion of 25 years of entering into force of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the Institute of Social Sciences hosted an international conference on human rights monitoring entitled Challenges of Monitoring in the European Multicultural Environment.
While inaugurating the conference, the director of the Institute of Social Sciences Goran Bašić said the implementation of standards outlined in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention didn’t mean nothing is wrong with multiculturism, and that the real issue is the correlation between the implemented standards and their effect on the life of a multicultural society.
Elise Cornu of the Division for National Minorities and Minority Languages, described the Framework as one of the Council of Europe’s biggest achievements, being the only legally binding framework for the protection of minorities at the European level: “Advisory Committee’s recommendations and standards guide the work of various bodies of the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and other authorities. Other international organisations also use them to evaluate the level of protection of minority rights and fulfilment of conditions for EU membership.”
Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, said that the five most cited grounds for discrimination were sex, disability, age, ethnicity, and, occupying a joint fifth spot, health status, sexual orientation, or some form of multiple discrimination. “When it comes to discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, in 2022, two-thirds of these complaints concerned the Roma national minority. Roma are the most exposed to discrimination, despite progress and great efforts made by the government and other stakeholders. Such complaints from other minorities are less common; Bosniaks accounted for 8.5%, Croatians for 3.8%, while Albanians accounted for 3.3% of all complaints,” with most complaints concerning the right to mother tongue education and using one’s own language and alphabet.
Tomislav Žigmanov, Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, said that multiculturism is not a common topic within academia, pointing to the lack of such content in education: “None of the four law schools in the Republic of Serbia offer a course in minority rights, despite them being a constitutional category.” He underlined that there were positive developments in the implementation of standards and improved cooperation with national minority councils.
On 10 December, Human Rights Day, participants in the conference, researchers from 12 European countries, adopted an Appeal for an end to conflicts and a dignified life, expressing concern for members of the groups that suffer, and are exposed to violence or humiliation due to their ethnic, national, or religious affiliation: “Being certain that life is more important than territories and distribution of power, that borders are permeable connecting lines, and that discussion, trust, and compromise are the basis for achieving sustainable solutions, we are committed to a viable peace and creating an environment where people are free to pursue happiness,” reads the Appeal (full text below).
Among others, participants in the conference included Petra Rotter, President of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee for the Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities, as well as current members and former presidents of the Committee. The conference was organised by the Institute of Social Sciences, Academic Network for Cooperation in Southeast Europe in cooperation with the Advisory Committee for the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities.
APPEAL FOR AN END TO CONFLICTS AND DIGNIFIED LIFE ON 10 DECEMBER, HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Participants of the scientific conference Challenges of Monitoring in the European Multicultural Environment are deeply saddened by the plight of people around the world who suffer violence and are innocent victims of war. We are particularly concerned for members of the groups who are victims of violence, and exposed to humiliation, as well as economic, social, or cultural deprivation due to their ethnic, national, or religious affiliation.
We call on international organisations and their members to commit to achieving immediate peace in the world and take all available measures to eliminate the consequences of wars, prevent risks of new conflicts, and encourage economic, social, and cultural progress and understanding between people of different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
Being certain that life is more important than territories and distribution of power, that borders are permeable connecting lines, and that discussion, trust, and compromise are the basis for achieving sustainable solutions, we are committed to viable peace and creating an environment where people are free to pursue happiness.