ECMI MAINSTREAMING PROGRAMME
While most attention with regards to minority protection is generally paid to rights aimed to preserve specific minority identity, it is rarely examined how a wide range of laws and public policies affect national minorities, i.e. a whole range of issues (sectoral programs) which can have an impact on the lives of minorities remains neglected. Stakeholders developing diverse sectoral policies not directly related to national minorities usually tend to ignore or simply overlook the impacts such policies can have on national minorities. For this reason, the ECMI has pointed out the lack of awareness about the need to mainstream minority rights across domains of policy-making.
With the ECMI Mainstreaming Programme, the ECMI will continue to pay specific attention to mainstreaming, trying to identify if the adopted regulations or public policies are sensitive to the needs of national minorities and how their implementation affects national minorities. In general, mainstreaming minority issues can take several forms, including: a) considering the effects of particular initiatives on minorities; b) assessing whether initiatives require additional measures to be effective among minority communities; and c) securing the relevance of initiatives for the needs of minorities. Special focus should be laid on legal frameworks (their impact on the status of national minorities), minority participation (institutionalized mechanisms which provide that minority needs are heard and taken into consideration at all levels of government), education access (as an inevitable channel for minority empowerment, their vertical promotion, and integration), and access to social services and labour market (as a crucial precondition for economic empowerment, and social inclusion). Mainstreaming should help to identify not only sectors of direct relevance for minorities, but also those of indirect relevance for minorities, i.e. those which could produce impacts on national minorities, and which are usually neglected. Bearing in mind the importance of local communities for the quality of minority protection and majority-minority relations, special attention will be paid to mainstreaming minority issues at the local level of governance.
As a sub-project under this thematic line, promoting ratification of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML) research will be initiated jointly by the Clusters Justice and Government and Culture and Diversity. Although they have committed themselves to signing and ratifying the ECMRL when acceding to the Council of Europe, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, and Russia have not yet done this. The ECMI will build on its activities in 2011, examine the current state of affairs with special emphasis on reasons for which the ratification in these countries is still pending, and accordingly develop its strategy for promoting ratification of the ECMRL.