Resolution CM/ResCMN(2011)14
on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
in Kosovo1

(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 6 July 2011
at the 1118th 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;2

Having regard to Article 2 of the Agreement between the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Council of Europe on technical arrangements related to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;

Considering United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) of 10 June 1999, which, recognising the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now the Republic of Serbia), establishes the authority of UNMIK, as the international civil presence, to provide an interim administration for Kosovo;

Recalling that UNMIK transmitted its progress report pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 2, of the above-mentioned Agreement on 21 July 2008;

Having examined the Advisory Committee’s opinion on the implementation of the Framework Convention in Kosovo, adopted on 5 November 2009, and the written comments of UNMIK, received on 31 May 2010;

Having also taken note of comments by other governments,

1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of Kosovo:

    a) Positive developments

Since the adoption of the Advisory Committee’s first opinion in November 2005, the competent authorities have continued to pay attention to the protection of minority communities and have adopted legislation which constitutes a solid legal basis for minority protection. Efforts have been made to combat discrimination and to promote full and effective equality in respect of persons belonging to national minorities, including steps to address the longstanding problems in electricity supply affecting disproportionately areas substantially inhabited by persons belonging to the Serbian community.

The possibility to adopt special measures with a view to promoting full and effective equality is provided for in the legislation. The Ombudsperson was finally appointed in June 2009, filling a post that had been vacant for more than three years.

Projects have been initiated and strategies put in place to facilitate the return and reintegration of returnees to some localities. Some families have already benefited from the support allocated for their return. The Strategy for the Integration of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, adopted in 2008, provides a framework for action to be taken to improve the situation of persons belonging to these groups in a number of areas. In October 2010, the lead-contaminated Česmin Lug camp in Northern Kosovo was closed down and alternative housing found for the remaining residents.

The Reconstruction Implementation Commission is in the process of completing the reconstruction of all damaged Serbian Orthodox religious sites.

Some steps have been taken to combat interethnic hostility and to train police officers on community-based policing. There is a lively minority language print media scene and licenses have been issued to a number of low power radio stations for local minority language broadcasters. Certain private broadcasters have included programmes for and about minority communities in their broadcasting scheme.

The 2006 Language Law provides increased clarity on the use of minority languages. Commendable efforts have been made to display bilingual topographical signs. Efforts have also been made to expand the availability of education in some minority languages, including in higher education. The setting-up of a commission to improve the curriculum in the Serbian language is a positive step. Efforts have also been made to improve the enrolment of minority community students in university education.

Reserved seats are guaranteed for elected representatives of minority communities in the Kosovo Assembly. The Committee on Rights and Interests of Communities of the Kosovo Assembly is consulted with respect to draft legislation and may initiate legal and other measures pertaining to minority protection. A Community Consultative Council has been set up and efforts have been made to ensure a transparent and inclusive selection procedure of its members. Moreover, steps have also been taken to strengthen equal opportunities for access to the civil service as well as in the police and in the judiciary.

    b) Issues of concern

Notwithstanding the aforementioned positive developments, shortcomings persist in the implementation of the existing legislation. Financial resources allocated for the implementation of the laws are often inadequate. Serious shortcomings have been reported as regards the functioning of the judicial system and the lack, under the current institutional arrangements, of adequate and effective remedies against human rights violations. The lack of access to justice appears to affect disproportionately persons belonging to minority communities. Numerous instances of discrimination seem to remain unreported, due, inter alia, to the lack of awareness and of trust in the judicial system among the population.

Creating conditions for the adequate participation of persons belonging to certain communities, especially the Serbs and the Roma, in the population census remains an important challenge for the authorities. Technical and other shortcomings have been identified during the pilot census projects and the data protection safeguards have not yet been fully put in place.

The situation of persons belonging to the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities raises deep concerns. Many of them continue to face discrimination in access to the labour market, housing and education, and are often confronted with prejudices and hostility. No appropriate solution has been found for the remaining Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians who live in lead-contaminated camps in Northern Kosovo.

As regards the process of reintegration of returnees, more resolute measures are needed to address their security concerns, and increased efforts must be made in areas such as employment, housing, education and access to property to ensure adequate conditions for safe and sustainable returns. Persons belonging to minority communities, who have been forcibly returned, are in a particularly vulnerable situation given the difficult socio-economic conditions they live in, often without access to healthcare and social services, employment and education. Notwithstanding the responsibility for the decision to implement forced returns lies with the governments of states from where persons have been returned, the competent authorities should address more vigorously the needs of those concerned considering their vulnerable situation.

The system of support for the preservation and development of minority cultures and the financial resources allocated do not meet the minority communities’ expectations. The system of allocation of such resources lacks transparency and minority representatives are not effectively involved in decision making on this issue.

Interethnic relations, in particular between persons belonging to the Serbian and the Albanian communities, remain tense and marked by mutual distrust and divisions along ethnic lines. The existing physical separation between different ethnic groups in many fields, including in education, and the increasingly apparent language barriers risk perpetuating these divisions. Persons willing to co-operate with the other community often face problems and threats within their own community. Debates on minority-related issues are excessively politicised. It is of the utmost importance to avoid intolerance based on ethnic affiliations in political discourse on all sides and at all levels. Perpetrators of ethnically and religiously motivated crime are rarely brought to justice. Thefts and vandalism on religious sites have continued to occur, despite efforts by the local police authorities. Attempts to alter the name of the Serbian Orthodox Church as well as the ownership of its property should be addressed.

Some minority communities continue to be deprived of access to public service broadcasting due to the lack of reception of public service television. There are also concerns over the low quality of programmes for minority communities broadcasted on the public service television and the insufficient funding allocated to print media.

The Language Law has not always been properly implemented. Difficulties have been encountered in accessing official information, including documents needed in civil and criminal judicial proceedings, in the official languages as well as in some minority languages. Topographical and other public signs do not always reflect the multiethnic and multilingual character of Kosovo.

The separate education system is not conducive to interaction among pupils, in particular those belonging to the Albanian and the Serbian communities. History is interpreted and communities portrayed according to the curriculum followed by the different communities. Moreover, opportunities to learn the official languages in minority schools are insufficient, which reduce considerably the possibility for integration of persons belonging to minority communities into society. This also applies to pupils belonging to the majority community who have limited opportunity to learn the other official language as well as minority languages at school. More generally, the quality of minority education is also a source of concern. In particular, insufficient support is provided by the authorities to meet the educational needs of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians.

The representation of persons belonging to minority communities in public services, in particular the Serbs and numerically smaller minorities, remains unsatisfactory. Their participation in social and economic life, including in the privatisation processes and property return, is also insufficient.

2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of Kosovo:

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 competent authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:

- take resolute steps to implement effectively and inclusively and to extend the legislative framework pertaining to the protection of minority communities, including numerically smaller ones, inter alia, by allocating adequate budgetary resources, in the spirit of the flexible and open approach to the scope of application of the Framework Convention;

- take vigorous measures to ensure effective access to justice and domestic remedies for persons belonging to minority communities;

- ensure adequate conditions to enable a maximum level of participation of persons belonging to minority communities in the forthcoming population census;

- identify and implement, as a matter of urgency, an adequate and sustainable solution for the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians living in the remaining lead-contaminated camps in Northern Kosovo, in close consultation with the representatives of the communities concerned; ensure that adequate financial and human resources are allocated and utilised for the effective implementation of the Strategy for the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities;

- ensure that the conditions for safe and sustainable returns of persons belonging to minority communities, especially IDPs, notably in areas such as security, housing, social protection, education and access to property, are put in place without delay;

- provide further support to the preservation of cultural and religious sites and the cultural heritage of all minority communities, including to those belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church;

- protect and develop the cultures of minority communities, including in the field of the media; pay specific attention to the needs of numerically smaller minorities; ensure adequate consultation of the communities’ representatives on the allocation of relevant funds;

- take resolute measures to strengthen interethnic dialogue and mutual understanding, especially between Albanian and Serb communities; elaborate and implement a comprehensive strategy for reconciliation and interethnic dialogue;

- ensure that ethnically and religiously motivated crime is effectively investigated, the perpetrators prosecuted and sanctioned and improve the system of data collection in this field;

- continue to provide education in minority languages and increase efforts to ensure equal access to education for all persons belonging to minority communities; take measures to provide a balanced and pluralistic approach to the teaching of history with due attention paid to the adequate and effective involvement of minority representatives in the preparation of textbooks;

- increase and strengthen opportunities for persons belonging to minority communities to learn the official languages in order to promote their integration into society;

- take steps to ensure equal access of persons belonging to all communities to public service broadcasting;

- take measures to ensure that persons belonging to minority communities can effectively take
part in economic and social life, including by drawing up a strategy on economic development and by ensuring their unhindered access to the privatisation processes and to property; pursue further efforts to ensure participation of persons belonging to minority communities in public administration.

3. Invites the UNMIK:

    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 co-operation with the competent authorities in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in sections 1 and 2 above.

1 All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

2 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”.



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