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Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations

Notification concerning the general rights of the German minority

On behalf of the Government, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister submitted to the Danish Parliament (Folketing) on 1 April 1955 the following declaration on the general rights to which persons belonging to the German minority in South Jutland are entitled:

Desiring to promote peaceful relations between the population on both sides of the Danish-German border and thus also the development of friendly relations between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany and referring to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human rights, pursuant to which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination in respect of association with a national minority the Royal Danish Government issues the following declaration confirming the legal principles already applicable to this minority - as also set forth in the declaration made by the then Danish Prime Minister Hans Hedtoft to representatives of the German minority in Northern Schleswig on 27 October 1949 (the so-called Copenhagen Note):

I.

Under Danish law the Basic Law of the Kingdom of Denmark of 5 June 1953 and other Legislation - every citizen and thus also every member of the German minority regardless of the language which he uses shall enjoy the following rights and freedoms:

  • 1. The right to inviolability of the liberty of the individual;
  • 2. equality before the law;
  • 3. freedom of faith and of conscience;
  • 4. the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press;
  • 5. freedom of assembly and association;
  • 6. the right freely to choose his occupation and place of work;
  • 7. inviolability of the home;
  • 8. the right freely to establish political parties;
  • 9. equal eligibility for any public office according to his aptitude,qualifications and professional achievements, i.e. in the case of civil servants, employees and workers in the public service no distinction may be made between members of the German minority and other citizens;
  • 10. the right to general, direct, equal, free and secret elections, which shall also apply to local elections;
  • 11. the right to have recourse to the court if he considers that his rights have been violated by public authority;
  • 12. the right to equal treatment, pursuant to which no one may be disadvantaged or favoured because of his parentage, his language, his origin, or his political opinions.

II.

In execution of these legal principles it is herewith stated that:

  • 1. It shall be possible freely to profess one's loyalty to the German people and German culture and such a profession of loyalty shall not be contested or verified by an official authority.
  • 2. Members of the German minority and their organizations may not be hindered from speaking and writing the language of their choice. Ihe use of the German language in courts and administrative agencies shall be governed by the relevant legal provisions.
  • 3. General schools and (also specialist) adult education centres as well as kindergartens may, in line with the relevant legal provisions, be set up by the German minority pursuant to the principle of the freedom of teaching in force in Denmark.
  • 4. Since, under local Legislation, the committees of local representative bodies are set up on the basis of proportional representation, representatives of the German minority shall be involved in committee work in proportion to their numbers.
  • 5. The Danish Government recommends that the German minority be duly taken into consideration within the framework of the rules in force on the use of radio.
  • 6. In respect of assistance and other benefits from public funds on which a discretionary decision is taken, the members of the German minority shall not be treated differently forrn other citizens. 
  • 7. In respect of public notifications the newspapers of the German minority should be duly taken into consideration.
  • 8. The special interest of the German minority in fostering contacts with Germany in the religious and cultural as well as in specialist fields shall be acknowledged.

The Danish Parliament (Folketinget) approved this declaration by decision of 19 April 1955.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs 7 June 1955, H.C. Hansen

Statement of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany concerning the rights of the Danish minority.*)

Desiring to promote peaceful relations between the population on both sides of the German-Danish border and thus also the development of friendly relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Denmark and considering the obligation under international law into which the Federal Republic of Germany has entered by virtue of its accession to the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of the obligation not to discriminate against national minorities (Article 14), the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany issues the following declaration in the spirit of the principles, also laid down in the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, to which the Government of Schleswig-Holstein referred in its declaration of 26 September 1949:

I.

Like all citizens, the members of the minority shall enjoy the rights guaranteed in the Basic Law of the Federal Repubhc of Germany of 23 May 1949. Within the framework of the Basic Law they shall have the following rights in particular:

  • 1. The right to inviolability of the liberty of the individual;
  • 2. Equality before the law;
  • 3. freedom of faith and of conscience;
  • 4. the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press;
  • 5. freedom of assembly and association;
  • 6. the right freely to choose their occupation and place of work;
  • 7. inviolability of the home;
  • 8. the right freely to establish political parties;
  • 9. equal eligibility for any public office according to their aptitude,qualifications and professional achievements; in the case of civil servants, employees and workers in the public service no distinction may be made between members of the Danish minority and other citizens;
  • 10. the right to general, direct, free, equal and secret elections, which shall also apply to regional and local elections;
  • 11. the right to have recourse to the court in the event of their rights being violated by public authority;
  • 12. the right to equal treatment, pursuant to which no one may be disadvantaged because of his parentage, his language, his origin or his political opinions.

II.

In execution of these legal principles it is herewith stated that:

  • 1. It shall be possible to freely to profess one's loyalty to the Danish people and Danish Culture and such a profession of loyalty shall not be contested or verified by an official authority.
  • 2. Members of the Danish minority and their organizations may not be hindered from speaking and writing the language of their choice. The use of the Danish language in courts and administrative agencies shall be governed by the relevant legal provisions.
  • 3. In respect of financial assistance and other benefits from public funds on which a discretionary decision is taken, members of the Danish minority may not be treated differently from other citizens.
  • 4. The special interest of the Danish minority in fostering contacts with Denmark in the religious and cultural as well as in specialist fields shall be acknowledged.

III.

The Federal Government gives notice that the Government of Schleswig-Holstein has informed it of the following:

  • 1. Since, under local legislation, the committees of local representative bodies are set up on the basis of proportional representation, representatives of the Danish minority shall be involved in committee work in proportion to their numbers.
  • 2. The Government of the Federal German state recommends that the Danish minority be duly taken into consideration within the framework of the rules in force on the use of radio.
  • 3. In respect of public notifications the newspapers of the Danish minority should be duly taken into consideration.
  • 4. In Schleswig-Holstein general schools and (also specialist) adult cducation centres as well as kindergartens may be set up by the Danish minority in line with the relevant legal provisions. At schools where teaching is in Danish adequate teaching shall be given in the German language.

Parents and persons legally responsible for a child's education may decide freely whether their children are to attend schools where teaching is in Danish.

*) Thus the statement is published in "Der Bundesanzeiger", no. 63, 31 March 1955 and in "Amtsblatt für Schleswig-Holstein", 23 April 1955.

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Schleswig-Holstein