1048th meeting – 11-12 February 2009

Appendix 8
(Item 4.4c)

Terms of reference of the Committee of Experts on issues relating to the protection of national minorities (DH-MIN)

Fact sheet

Name of Committee:

Committee of Experts on issues relating to the protection of national minorities (DH-MIN)

Compliance with Resolution Res(2005)47:

YES

Programme of Activities: project(s)

2008/DGHL/1407 “Protecting and promoting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities”

Project relevance:

The Action Plan of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005, CM(2005)80 final, 17 May 2005), notably chapter I.2 “Protecting and promoting human rights through the other Council of Europe institutions and mechanisms”.

The Statute of the Council of Europe (1949, ETS No. 001) – Contribution to core values: protection and promotion of human rights, rule of law and democratic pluralist system.

The source of political justification and framework of the current work of the DH-MIN stem also from the political texts adopted at the European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights (Rome, 3-4 November 2000): Resolution II “Respect for human rights, a key factor for democratic stability and cohesion in Europe: current issues”.

This work is intergovernmental in nature and covers all member states. Consequently, it complements the work carried out in the context of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities which, on the one hand, consists in monitoring the respect of commitments and, on the other, only concerns, strictly speaking, the States Parties to this instrument.

Project added value:

The Council of Europe is the most suitable European body to exchange views and experiences in the field of the protection of national minorities in the human rights perspective. The work of the DH-MIN, which also involves representatives of civil society, contributes to help member states to elaborate, promote and implement national legislation and policy in the field of human rights in full compliance with the fundamental values of the Council of Europe.

The work of the DH-MIN lends itself to partnerships with other international organisations (governmental or otherwise), which are represented at its meetings. Under the authority of the CDDH, the DH-MIN pays particular attention at avoiding any duplication and providing contributions from its own specific “human rights” perspective.

Financial information:

The DH-MIN (47 members + president) meets once or twice a year, depending on the need of its agenda and other priorities of the CDDH.

The maximum yearly cost is about €121 000 = €90 000 (experts’ costs) + €20 000 (interpretation costs) + €4 000 (translation costs) + €4 000 (production of documents) + €3 000 (publication costs).

The minimum yearly cost (one meeting) would be about €61 000.

Terms of reference of the Committee of Experts on issues relating to the protection of national minorities (DH-MIN)

1.

Name of Committee:

Committee of Experts on issues relating to the protection of national minorities (DH-MIN)

2.

Type of Committee:

Committee of Experts

3.

Source of terms of reference:

Committee of Ministers on the proposal of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

4.

Terms of reference:

 

Having regard to:

-

the Resolution Res(2005)47 on committees and subordinate bodies, their terms of reference and working methods;

-

the Declaration and the Action Plan adopted at the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member states (Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005, CM(2005)80 final, 17 May 2005), in particular chapter I.2 “Protecting and promoting human rights through the other Council of Europe institutions and mechanisms”;

-

decision CM/Del/Dec(2007)984/4.1b/appendix13E containing the specific terms of reference of the DH-MIN adopted at the 984th meeting of the Committee of Ministers held on 17 and 18 January 2007;

-

the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950, ETS No. 005) and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995, ETS No  157).

 

Under the authority of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) and in relation with the implementation of Project 2008/DGHL/1407 “Protecting and promoting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities”, the Committee is instructed to:

i.

act as a forum for the exchange of information, views and experience on policies and good practice for the protection of national minorities at domestic level and in the context of relevant international legal instruments, including those of the Council of Europe, without pursuing activities relating to monitoring the situation in individual member states;

ii.

carry out a reflection on transversal issues relevant to member states, drawing on the results of the monitoring mechanism of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and, where appropriate, the work of other bodies dealing with related issues and especially the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities;

iii.

identify and assess ways and means of further enhancing European co-operation on issues relating to the protection of national minorities and, where appropriate, to make proposals to this effect for consideration by the CDDH, including studies and draft recommendations on issues of general interest;

iv.

prepare draft opinions for the CDDH on relevant issues, including in particular recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly or the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;

v.

In so doing, it shall, where appropriate,

-

carry out or commission relevant policy-research;

-

involve in its work representatives of national minorities and non-governmental organisations with recognised competence in this field, notably by organising hearings with them.

 

While carrying out its terms of reference, the DH-MIN shall ensure full respect of the functioning of the monitoring mechanism of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and other monitoring mechanisms in related fields.

5.

Composition of the Committee:

5.A.

Members

Governments of member states are entitled to appoint representatives with the relevant qualifications in the field of protection of national minorities.

The Council of Europe budget will bear the travel and subsistence expenses of one representative from each member state (two in the case of the state whose expert has been elected chairperson).

5.B.

Participants

i.

The following committees may each send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the charge of the corresponding Council of Europe budget sub-heads:

- the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC);
- the Committee of Experts on the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

ii.

The Parliamentary Assembly may send a representative to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the expense of its administrative budget.

iii.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe may send a representative to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the expense of its administrative budget.

iv.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights may send a representative to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the expense of its administrative budget.

v.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the expense of its administrative budget.

vi.

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the expense of the body that they represent.

5.C.

Other participants

i.

The European Commission and the Council of the European Union may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

ii.

States with observer status of the Council of Europe (Canada, Holy See, Japan, Mexico, United States of America) may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

iii.

The following bodies and intergovernmental organisations may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses :

- Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) / Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR);
- United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;
- OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.

5.D.

Observers

The following non-member state:

- Belarus;

and the following non-governmental organisations:

- Amnesty International;
- International Commission of Jurists (CIJ);
- International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH);
- European Roma and Travellers Forum;
- European Group of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights;

may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

6.

Working methods and structures:

i.

Within the limits of available budgetary appropriations and to expedite the progress of its work, the Committee may entrust specific tasks to ad hoc advisory groups (e.g. groups of specialists, of limited composition, not necessarily drawn from the parent committee) and may, where necessary, call on external experts or consultants.

ii.

Depending on its agenda and within the limits of available budgetary appropriations, the Committee may invite to its meetings or organise hearings with representatives of NGOs and of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (NHRIs), as well as any other third party in a position to contribute to its work.

7.

Duration:

 

These terms of reference will expire on 31 December 2009.



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