on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 30 March 2011
at the 1110th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter referred to as “the Framework Convention”);
Having regard to Resolution Res(97)10 of 17 September 1997 setting out rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention;
Having regard to the voting rule adopted in the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10;1
Having regard to the instrument of ratification submitted by Ukraine on 26 January 1998;
Recalling that the Government of Ukraine transmitted its state report in respect of the second monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 8 June 2006;
Having examined the Advisory Committee’s second opinion on Ukraine adopted on 30 May 2008, and the written comments of the Government of Ukraine, received on 19 November 2008;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments,
1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of Ukraine:
a) Positive developments
Ukraine has continued to pay due attention to the protection of national minorities and some steps have been taken to reform the existing legislative framework pertaining to minority protection. For example, the draft Concept on Ethnic Policy, which provides for a number of measures conducive to strengthening intercultural and interethnic dialogue, has been finalised and a wide public discussion is now due to start on this document.
Some improvements have been noted with regard to the Crimean Tatars and other formerly deported peoples, such as the granting of Ukrainian citizenship to the vast majority of those who have returned to Ukraine.
Regional initiatives and programmes targeting persons belonging to some minorities, such as the Roma and the Crimean Tatars, have been implemented in some regions with a view to improving their situation in various fields, including health care and education.
Ukraine has continued to provide state funding for cultural initiatives of national minorities and the procedure relating to the allocation of financial support has been made more open and transparent.
Efforts have been made by the Ukrainian authorities to promote intercultural and interethnic dialogue, as well as to monitor hate speech in print and electronic media, including on the internet. A promising Action Plan on Countering Racism was adopted in 2007.
The process of restoring historical names in minority languages in compact settlement of national minorities has been pursued.
Additional textbooks for educational institutions with minority languages have been developed since 2002 and the authorities have pledged to intensify their efforts in this field.
The Consultative Council of Minority Representatives has recently resumed its work and gained more independence. It is being increasingly consulted by the authorities on issues affecting them.
b) Issues of concern
Apart from some legislative initiatives, there have been no major developments in the legislation pertaining to national minorities. The current legislative framework is partly outdated, lacks coherence and contains a number of shortcomings. There is, therefore, a vital need to adapt the national legislation, including the law on national minorities, to the relevant international standards, including the Framework Convention. Additionally, the authorities are encouraged to pursue further their inclusive approach with regard to the implementation of the Framework Convention, as mentioned in the opinion of the Advisory Committee.
The right balance needs to be struck between the legitimate aim to promote the use of the Ukrainian language and the necessity to support the use of minority languages in various fields of public life. Ongoing reforms should be pursued in accordance with a coherent and comprehensive language policy, which remains to be developed. It is essential that the principles underlying such a policy enjoy broader consensus to ensure a stronger sense of ownership by the population, including persons belonging to national minorities, in accordance with Article 5 paragraph 1 of the Framework Convention.
Ukraine has still not adopted comprehensive civil and administrative provisions pertaining to discrimination and the lack of reliable statistical data on instances of discrimination makes it difficult to develop targeted policies in this field.
The Roma have continued to face severe social and economic difficulties, which hamper their integration into Ukrainian society. Further efforts to encourage the attendance of Roma children in pre-school education as well as to integrate them in mainstream schools are required.
There has been a worrying increase in the number of racially motivated acts and manifestations of hostility targeted at various groups, including persons belonging to certain national minorities. It is essential to increase the attention with which such incidents are investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. Awareness-raising measures should be developed among the authorities concerned.
A lack of financial support from the state makes it difficult for some national minorities to maintain and restore their cultural monuments and cemeteries. Some defacing of religious and minority sites has been reported, including in Crimea.
The legal possibility to apply language quotas to promote the use of the state language in radio and television broadcasts raises serious problems under the Framework Convention, especially with regard to private operators. There is a need to address increasing difficulties encountered in producing and broadcasting television programmes and in distributing films in minority languages.
The share of instruction in the Ukrainian language has continued to increase at all levels of education while, according to the assessment made by persons belonging to some national minorities, instruction in minority languages has been decreasing. It is important to ensure that any measures taken with regard to the language of the final secondary education examinations, whether or not they have an impact on access to higher education institutions, do not have an adverse effect on minority language education at secondary level by lowering the interest for such education. The shortage of quality textbooks and qualified teachers for teaching in minority language persists.
While it is legitimate for the Ukrainian authorities to promote the use of the state language, the ongoing reforms in the field of education should not have a negative impact, for persons belonging to national minorities, on equal opportunities in accessing higher education according to their needs. Any reform conducive to strengthening the state language in educational institutions needs to be introduced gradually, taking into account the rights of persons belonging to national minorities in accordance with Article 14 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and accompanying measures should allow students to acquire a better proficiency in the state language.
The participation of persons belonging to national minorities in public affairs has been hampered following legislative changes in 2004, which introduced an electoral system of pure proportional representation in one nationwide constituency. A more inclusive participation of Roma organisations should be ensured in the work of the Council of representatives of associations of national minorities in Ukraine, as well as in the context of ad hoc consultations by the authorities.
Problems relating to access to land by Crimean Tatars have largely remained unsolved in Crimea. No legal norms relating to restitution of property to formerly deported peoples have been adopted so far.
2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of Ukraine:
In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in sections I and II of the Advisory Committee’s opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:
- improve, as a matter of priority, the legislative framework pertaining to minority issues, in particular in the field of education and media, and bring it in line with relevant international norms, including those relating to the Framework Convention, as recommended in the opinion of the Advisory Committee;2
- complement, where appropriate, legislative provisions pertaining to discrimination and introduce additional measures to promote full and effective equality;
- strengthen efforts to improve the social and economic situation of persons belonging to disadvantaged minorities, particularly the Roma and the Crimean Tatars;
- increase the attention with which racially motivated incidents are investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted while stepping up awareness-raising activities among law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges;
- take effective measures to ensure that policies to promote the use of the state language fully respect the language-related rights of persons belonging to national minorities, as guaranteed by the Framework Convention;
- examine the possibility of resorting to incentive-based measures and voluntary methods to promote the use of the state language in the media and take measures to address difficulties relating to the production and broadcasting of television programmes as well as to the distribution of films in minority languages;
- ensure that initiatives aimed at promoting the Ukrainian language in education do not result in limitations for the right to minority language education and review, in consultation with persons belonging to national minorities, the legal framework pertaining to minority education, including higher education;
- increase efforts to promote equal opportunities for access to education at all levels for persons belonging to national minorities, including by providing adequate response to the needs of national minorities in higher education.
- increase efforts to provide quality textbooks and qualified teachers for minority language education;
- create conditions to facilitate wider participation of persons belonging to national minorities in elected bodies at central and local levels as well as to further improve the functioning of existing consultative bodies;
- take further steps to address the problems faced by the Crimean Tatars in relation to land claims by adopting legal norms relating to property restitution and providing for adequate compensation.
3. Invites the Government of Ukraine, in accordance with Resolution Res(97)10:
a. to continue the dialogue in progress with the Advisory Committee;
b. to keep the Advisory Committee regularly informed of the measures it has taken in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in sections 1 and 2 above.
1 In the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10 on 17 September 1997, the Committee of Ministers also adopted the following rule: “Decisions pursuant to Articles 24.1 and 25.2 of the Framework Convention shall be considered to be adopted if two-thirds of the representatives of the Contracting Parties casting a vote, including a majority of the representatives of the Contracting Parties entitled to sit on the Committee of Ministers, vote in favour”.
2 Paragraph 65 of the 2nd opinion of the Advisory Committee on Ukraine (CM(2008)116): “Legislative reforms regarding, in particular, the Law on National Minorities and the Law on Languages should be developed in a coherent way, without regressing from the existing level of protection and with full respect for the relevant international standards. In this context, the right balance must be struck between the legitimate aim to promote the use of the state language in various spheres of life and the necessity to provide for the use of minority languages in private and in public, as provided for by the Framework Convention.”