The focus of the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) Working Paper #71 is on the encouragement of ‘intercultural dialogue’ through the media, as described in Article 6(1) of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).
The main author of Working Paper #71, Dr. Federica Prina, is former researcher of the Culture & Diversity Cluster at ECMI. Currently, she is a consultant at ECMI and editor-in-chief of the Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe (JEMIE).
Unpacking the notion of intercultural dialogue
According to the authors, Alkistis Zavakou, Fulvia Ghirardi, Sabrina Colombo, and Dr. Prina, the exact scope and significance of the FCNM expression ‘intercultural dialogue’ remain nebulous.
Against this background, the Working Paper unpacks the notion of ‘intercultural dialogue’ and its close relationship to kindred expressions such as ‘tolerance’, ‘mutual respect’, and ‘understanding’. The insights offered in the Paper fall in three parts:
- An introduction to the notion of ‘intercultural dialogue’, particularly with reference to article 6(1) of the FCNM
- An extraction of a series of principles, from the Opinions of the Advisory Committee on the FCNM (ACFC), which function as guidelines to the states for the promotion of intercultural dialogue through the media.
- An analysis of how the states interpret their obligation in relation to encouraging ‘intercultural dialogue’ by means of the media. The analysis is performed on the basis of the state reports to the ACFC.
Several examples from the state reports are provided.
Authors suggest quantifiable data
In a concluding section, the authors list a number of difficulties that complicate the monitoring of the FCNM.
Among more circumstances, the states interpret differently their responsibilities in relation to the FCNM, their levels of commitment vary, and the impacts of the states’ initiatives remain unclear in their reporting. Overall, the monitoring cycles are complicated by the limited data and resources of the states.
In this light, the authors air the idea of requiring quantifiable and comparable data from the states. A system of indicators could guide the states. The idea is exemplified by quantifiers for reporting on the promotion of intercultural dialogue through the media.
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 in 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.