This short presentation on participation and the FCNM was given to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to identify parallels with between participation and minorities and participation and Migrants.
Measures to improve the Democratic participation of Migrants.
Shared lessons with the Advisory Committee on FCNM
Thank you for inviting me to speak on behalf of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on this important topic. Recent migrants are usually outside those groups that States wish to see protected by the Framework Convention. However some States do ensure that that certain provisions of the Framework Convention are open to new minorities.
Consequently our new Commentary on Article 15 of the Framework Convention on effective participation may be of particular relevance here, where we have reviewed our experience of the last decade. It covers a wide range of issues from cultural participation, to social and economic participation with a major section on participation in public affairs. Some of the lessons learnt here, especially on citizenship, should be of benefit to migrants, whether or not migrants are protected by the Framework Convention.
Citizenship is an important element which can influence minority participation in public affairs. While it is legitimate to impose certain restrictions on non-citizens concerning their right to vote and to be elected to certain kinds of public office, they should not be applied more widely than is necessary. The restriction of other participatory rights to citizens only has already raised concerns in different contexts, including in relation to cultural rights, and does not always appear legitimate to the Advisory Committee.
In these case the relevant criterion would therefore probably be lawful and effective residence for a certain duration. Similarly citizenship should not be a condition for persons belonging to national minorities to join trade unions and other civil society associations. This is particularly important in State Parties where citizenship policy has been in a state of flux.
The Commentary also highlights other important participatory issues.
National minorities should effectively participate in managing their own organisations and can promote their own culture in the context of integration within a wider society.
Furthermore States should ensure that national minorities effectively participate in programming that is intended for their benefit. This must not be token consultation but real ownership, engagement and partnership.
National minorities and recent migrant can be at different ends of the spectrum on the longevity of organisational structures and citizenship but some of the democratic principles of responding to diversity and different national, ethnic, religious or linguistic groups are shared and we should share our experiences.
Thank you Mr.Chairman.