The Advisory Committee (ACFC) of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) is probably about to step out of relative anonymity. A conference beginning this morning, Shaping the Frame Across the Cycles, will surface the participating experts’ insights in the ACFC’s first 15 years of existence.
Since 1998, when the FCNM entered into force, a monitoring system around the ACFC has established itself. The history of the ACFC’s merits and obstacles, establishment, and first fifteen years of operation has never been told in a comprehensive presentation. This is now being remedied in Flensburg, where ECMI staff and visiting experts are starting to share their knowledge of the ACFC history.
In the conference title, “Cycles” allude to the five-year monitoring cycles. A cycle takes five years, after which a new begins. Europe is now at the threshold of the fourth cycle since the system began.
The Twitter hashtag of the conference is #FCNM
Featuring excellence in contents and participation
Shaping the Frame Across the Cycles features the most excellent European experts when it comes to telling precisely the ACFC‘s history. All have been directly involved in the work of the ACFC and all the former presidents participate (Rainer Hofmann, Alan Phillips and Asbjørn Eide).
The conference and the book that is going to be published with all the contributions are predisposed in three themes.
The first theme relates to the institution ACFC and its mandate. The ACFC mandate was designed by politicians, but they obviously could not account for everything. Therefore, under this theme the experts will tell what happened when the ACFC met reality, and how this developed both the mandate and the institution. The second theme is about the way ACFC has exercised its role as a moral watchdog – the normative role as researchers call it. The experts will also tell how the ACFC lives and makes an influence in the corridors of diplomacy. With the conference’s third theme, the experts will give an insight into the monitoring “engine” where an important crankshaft is the secretariat of the Advisory Committee – and of course the staff of the secretariat. Cooperation with other, similar institutions and mandates will also be presented in this section.
FACTS: The Framework Convention, the Advisory Committee and the five-year monitoring rounds
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) is anchored in the Council of Europe. More than 40 European states have signed and ratified the treaty.
The FCNM describes how a monitoring system with an Advisory Committee (ACFC) must evaluate whether states actually implement what they have signed. The monitoring leads to recommendations to the states in order to protect minorities.
ACFC is responsible for providing analyses of minority protection in the states. The ACFC also adopts country specific opinions that should guide the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers (CM) in the preparation of policy resolutions.
ACFC consists of 18 independent and recognized minority experts who are either elected or appointed for four-year terms.
A monitoring cycle spans over five years and begins when each of the states provide a status report. When the convention entered into force, states were given only one year to prepare the first report. Therefore; we are now at the dawn of the fourth cycle.
As the Council of Europe receives reports from the states parties, they are made available on the Council of Europe website. The ACFC examines the reports and compares them with information from governmental and non-governmental sources. The ACFC may perform research missions to individual countries and meet up with government representatives, parliamentarians, minority representatives, NGOs and other stakeholders. Finally, for each state the ACFC author an opinion that is sent to CM members. After four months opinions are made public by the ACFC Secretariat. The four months is also the time states have to comment on the ACFC’s opinions.
When the ACFC sends a country specific opinion to the CM the process moves into the political pillar. The CM adopts declarations with recommendations and conclusions to the states. Naturally, states are expected to act in accordance with the Council of Europe recommendations. In the phase when states are expected to implement the recommendations, the ACFC is once again monitoring the process.
- Conference brochure with programme and list of participants
- Blog announcement: ECMI Conference: Shaping the Frame across the Cycles on 5 July in Flensburg
- Report of the 1998 conference, Implementing the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, 12-14 juni 1998
- Flickr photo set
National Minorities in Europe and Their Protection: Two Events in Flensburg and Budapest by Ofelya Sargsyan on Libertasblogs