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The FCNM at 20: Is There Indeed a Crisis?
Dr. Ljubica Djordjević
European Centre for Minority Issues
Release Date:

The occasion of the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) has called for recapitulation of its effects and provoked debates about the current state of affairs in the European system of minority protection. The general tune of the comments/observations is rather cloudy: although the significance of the FCNM has been acknowledged, it has been often remarked that the system is in a crisis and stuck in a dead-end. It has been argued that states are more reluctant to the concept of a multicultural society and to the minority protection, that bilateral relations increasingly affect the position of respective minorities and, consequently, multilateralism has ceased to be the dominant method to solve issues in minority protection. The monitoring system has also been subjected to criticism, suggesting it is inefficient and unable to enforce the principles set out in the FCNM.  The purpose of this Issue Brief is to outline some basic tendencies in the dynamics of the FCNM in the past 20 years, with the aim to explore whether the FCNM is indeed in crisis, as it has often been argued. The first part shows the quantitative dynamics of the FCNM: the timeline of the process of submitting instruments of signature and ratification, as well as reservations, declarations or communications. It also addresses the problem of the delays in the monitoring process that have been observed and rightly criticized. The second part focuses on the qualitative impact of the FCNM on the protection of national minorities in its states parties. Here, some general positive and negative trends have been pointed out, which the Advisory Committee has brought up in several of its Activity Reports. The Issue Brief is part of the ECMI larger research project seeking to assess the impacts of the FCNM and the effectiveness of the monitoring of its implementation. As such, the Issue Brief presents some central (though still preliminary) findings of the study that will be published in 2019.

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