ECMI Publications Database
With the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), the Council of Europe recognized that national minority protection was essential for European “stability, democratic security, and peace”. Yet, because the FCNM is nonjusticiable, and because its monitoring mechanism is voluntary and highly discretionary, many legal commentators’ initial predictions were ambivalent or pessimistic. Two decades and several monitoring cycles after the FCNM entered into force, there is sufficient data to begin assessing the accuracy of the initial predictions. This working paper answers a narrow question: to what extent have the FCNM’s monitoring procedure and the Advisory Committee’s recommendations been effective in facilitating Croatia’s implementation of its legal obligation under the FCNM? In brief, the Croatian implementation record reveals mixed results. Whereas Croatian authorities have made significant progress toward full and effective constitutional, legislative and institutional implementation of their FCNM obligations, this success has been marred by resistance and disobedience at the level of local application. An analysis of Croatia’s progress demonstrates that its national minority protection measures are not properly characterized as legislative lip-service, and that even though Croatia has much work to do to fully implement the FCNM, including on several issues of pressing concern, its real progress should be neither underestimated nor devalued. Ultimately, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the FCNM’s monitoring procedure’s ability to encourage States Parties to enhance their national minority protection, particularly at the legislative and institutional levels.