1044 Meeting, 10 December 2008
10 Legal questions
10.1 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
a. Fourth report of the Committee of Experts in respect of
Item to be prepared by the GR-J on 18 November 2008
In accordance with Article 16, paragraph 3 of the Charter,
the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority
Languages submits its fourth report on the application of the Charter in
Liechtenstein to the Committee of Ministers of the Council
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
provides for a control mechanism to evaluate how the Charter is applied in a
State Party with a view to, where necessary, making Recommendations for
improving its legislation, policy and practices. The central element of this
procedure is the Committee of Experts, set up under Article 17 of the Charter.
Its principal purpose is to report to the Committee of Ministers on its
evaluation of compliance by a Party with its undertakings, to examine the real
situation of regional or minority languages in the State and, where appropriate,
to encourage the Party to gradually reach a higher level of commitment.
To facilitate this task, the Committee of Ministers
adopted, in accordance with Article 15.1, an outline for initial periodical
reports that a Party is required to submit to the Secretary General. The report
should be made public by the State. This outline requires the State to give an
account of the concrete application of the Charter, the general policy for the
languages protected under Part II and, in more precise terms, all measures that
have been taken in application of the provisions chosen for each language
protected under Part III of the Charter. The Committee of Experts’ first task is
therefore to examine the information contained in the periodical report for all
the relevant regional or minority languages on the territory of the State
The Committee of Experts’ role is to evaluate the existing
legal acts, regulations and real practice applied in each State for its regional
or minority languages. It has established its working methods accordingly. The
Committee of Experts gathers information from the respective authorities and
from independent sources within the State, so as to attempt to obtain a fair and
just overview of the real language situation. After a preliminary examination of
an initial periodical report, the Committee of Experts submits, if necessary, a
number of questions to each Party to obtain supplementary information from the
authorities on matters it considers insufficiently developed in the report
itself. This written procedure is usually followed up by an “on-the-spot visit”
by a delegation of the Committee of Experts to the State in question. During
this visit the delegation meets bodies and associations whose work is closely
related to the use of the relevant languages, and consults the authorities on
matters that have been brought to its attention. This information-gathering
process is designed to enable the Committee of Experts to evaluate more
effectively the application of the Charter in the State concerned.
Having concluded this process, the Committee of Experts
adopts its own report. This report is submitted to the Committee of Ministers,
together with suggestions for recommendations that the latter may decide to
address to one or more Parties, as may be required.
Chapter 1. Background
1. The Principality of Liechtenstein signed the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (hereafter referred to as the
Charter) on 5 November 1992, and deposited its instrument of ratification on
18 November 1997. The instrument of ratification is attached as Appendix of this
report. The Charter entered into force for Liechtenstein on 1 March 1998.
2. In accordance with Article 15.1 of the Charter,
Liechtenstein submitted its initial periodical report to the Secretary General
of the Council of Europe on 1 March 1999, and subsequent reports in 9 March 2002
and 21 February 2005. The previous three reports of the Committee of Experts on
Liechtenstein, adopted on 9 February 2001, 24 March 2004 and 8 April 2005
respectively (ECRML (2001) 5, ECRML (2004) 4) and ECRML (2005) 2) contain
identical findings. The Committee of Experts took note of Liechtenstein’s
particular situation of having no regional or minority languages within the
meaning of the Charter and concluded that no proposals for recommendations
should therefore be sent to the Committee of Ministers. The Committee of
Ministers took note of these findings (on 19 September 2001, 9 June 2004 and 29
June 2005 respectively) and expressed its appreciation of the contribution that
Liechtenstein has made to the protection and promotion of regional or minority
languages in Europe by its ratification and active involvement in the Charter
3. Liechtenstein submitted its fourth periodical report on
5 February 2008.
4. The present report was adopted by the Committee of
Experts on 12 September 2008.
1.1 The work of the Committee of Experts
5. The Committee of Experts took
note of the fourth periodical report of Liechtenstein, which affirms that the
declaration contained in the instrument of ratification, deposited on 18
November 1997, continues to reflect the situation in Liechtenstein, that there
are no regional or minority languages as defined in Article 1 of the Charter in
the territory of the Principality of Liechtenstein.
6. The Committee of Experts has satisfied itself that
there are no regional or minority languages traditionally used in Liechtenstein.
1.2. Particular issues arising in the evaluation of the
application of the Charter in Liechtenstein
7. German is the official language in Liechtenstein as
stipulated in Article 6 of the Constitution of 1921. In its instrument of
ratification, Liechtenstein declared that no regional or minority languages in
the sense of the Charter exist on the territory of the State. Liechtenstein
ratified the Charter in order to underline the importance it attaches to the
Charter as an essential tool for preserving and cultivating the cultural
diversity of Europe and to contribute to the entry into force of the Charter.
8. As the Charter is not applicable to any regional or
minority languages in Liechtenstein, the Committee of Experts has not considered
it necessary to perform its normal information gathering procedures to the same
extent as it has done in relation to other Parties.
Chapter 2. Findings of the
Committee of Experts
9. The Committee of Experts compliments Liechtenstein on
the commitment and European solidarity it has demonstrated by ratifying the
10. The Committee of Experts has concluded that, in the
light of the particular situation whereby in Liechtenstein no regional or
minority languages are spoken on its territory, it will not propose to the
Committee of Ministers to forward any recommendations to the Principality of
11. In accordance with Articles 16 paras. 3 and 4 of the
Charter, the Committee of Experts asks the Committee of Ministers to take note
of this report and to express to the Government of Liechtenstein its
appreciation of the valuable contribution it has made to the protection and
promotion of regional or minority languages in Europe by its ratification and
active contribution to the promotion of the Charter.
Instrument of Ratification
|| Liechtenstein :
Declaration contained in the instrument of ratification deposited on 18 November
1997 - Or. Fr.
The Principality of Liechtenstein declares in accordance with Article 2,
paragraph 2, and in accordance with Article 3, paragraph 1, of the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of 5 November 1992, that there are no
regional or minority languages in the sense of the Charter in the territory of
the Principality of Liechtenstein at the time of ratification.
Period covered: 01/03/98 -
The preceding statement concerns Article(s): 2, 3
This document has been classified restricted until examination by the
Committee of Ministers.