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4 - The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities

from PART A - Minorities-specific instruments, provisions and institutions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2009

Kristin Henrard
Affiliation:
Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Robert Dunbar
Affiliation:
University of Aberdeen
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Summary

Introduction

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the institution of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (the ‘High Commissioner’) has acquired a considerable prestige in the area of conflict prevention. Even though the High Commissioner is primarily, or even exclusively, aiming at the prevention of conflicts relating to national minority issues, it is obvious that a major tool for the High Commissioner to achieve his aims is monitoring and promoting a proper implementation of minority rights. Nevertheless, the security-oriented perspective of the High Commissioner cannot be overlooked, as it implies that he is – according to his mandate at least – only active in minority situations where serious tensions exists. It also implies that, as a conflict prevention instrument, the High Commissioner only considers a limited number of minority problems, whereas other minority problems which ‘don't have the potential to develop into a conflict’ fall outside the scope of his mandate.

The purpose of this chapter is to consider how far the High Commissioner has contributed over the years to a further strengthening and development of minority rights standards. Did the activities of the High Commissioner indeed lead to the development of new standards, or did they contribute to a further elaboration or clarification of existing standards? In another study, the first author of this chapter has explored the High Commissioner's role in relation to citizenship issues and concluded that the High Commissioner in the 1990s indeed contributed considerably to developing certain criteria which he used to monitor developments within specific countries.

Type
Chapter
Information
Synergies in Minority Protection
European and International Law Perspectives
, pp. 88 - 118
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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References

Bloed, A., ‘Citizenship issues and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities’, in O'Leary, S. and Tiilikainen, T. (eds.), Citizenship and Nationality Status in the New Europe (London: Institute for Public Policy Research, 1998), pp. 39–52.Google Scholar
For a thorough overview, see Letschert, R. M., The Impact of Minority Rights Mechanisms (The Hague: Asser Press, 2005), ch. 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kemp, Walter, Quiet Diplomacy in Action, The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2001), p. 100.Google Scholar
Ratner, S. R., ‘Does international law matter in preventing ethnic conflict?’ (2000) 32(3) New York University Journal of International Law and Politics591–698, 623.Google Scholar
Both the UN Working Group on Minorities and the COE Advisory Committee under the Framework Convention have referred to these guidelines in their reports or opinions. See, e.g., the recent adoption by the AC of the Commentary on Education under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, adopted at the twenty-fifth session on 2 March 2006, in which reference is made to the OSCE Hague Recommendations. See also Bosch, M. and Genugten, W. J. M., ‘International legal protection of migrant workers, national minorities and indigenous people – comparing underlying concepts’ (2002) 9 International Journal on Minority and Group Rights195–233, 210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shelton, D., ‘Commentary and conclusions’, in Shelton, D. (ed.), Commitment and Compliance, The Role of Non-Binding Norms in the International Legal System (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 449.Google Scholar
See, e.g., Packer, J. and Siemienski, G., ‘Integration through education: the origin and development of the Hague Recommendations’, (1996–7) 4(2) International Journal on Minority and Group Rights187–198Google Scholar
Eide, A., ‘The Oslo Recommendations Regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities: an overview’ (1999) 6(3) International Journal on Minority and Group Rights319–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Packer, J. and Siemienski, G., ‘The origin and development of the Oslo Recommendations Regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities’ (1999) 6(3) International Journal on Minority and Group Rights329–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thornberry, P. and Amor Martín Estébanez, M., Minority Rights in Europe (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2004), pp. 17–18Google Scholar
Myntti, K., A Commentary to the Lund Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Public Life (Turku/Abo: Abo Academi University, 2001)Google Scholar
Weller, M. (ed.), The Rights of Minorities in Europe. A Commentary on the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
See also Bosch, M. and Genugten, W. J. M., ‘International legal protection of migrant workers, national minorities and indigenous people – comparing underlying concepts’ (2002) 9 International Journal on Minority and Group Rights195–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
See also Packer, J., ‘Confronting the contemporary challenges of Europe's minorities’ (2005) 16(3) Helsinki Monitor227–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Packer, J., ‘Confronting the contemporary challenges of Europe's minorities’ (2005) 3 Helsinki Monitor229–30.Google Scholar
Hofman, R., ‘Review of the Monitoring Process of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities’ (2001–2) 1 European Yearbook of Minority Issues435–60, 449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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