|EBLUL at the UN Forum on Minorities|
|Tuesday, 17 November 2009|
The UN Forum for Minorities was held in the UN at Geneva last week (12th-13th November) and gave the opportunity for a broad range of minority organisations and UN Member States to contribute to discussions on best practice in obtaining effective minority political participation.
The Forum provides a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, and provides thematic contributions and expertise to the work of the independent expert on minority issues. The Forum was set up to identify and analyse best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives for the further implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
EBLUL, in its contribution to the Forum’s draft recommendations that will feed into UN human rights policy, highlighted how political autonomy has become European best practice for the promotion and protection for Europe’s linguistic and national minorities.
EBLUL underlined that, “Substantive political autonomy, whereby the national minority has control of its education and schooling system, for example, and is able to provide immersion education in the national minority language, has been proven to offer effective national minority language protection.”
EBLUL pointed to examples such as, “the substantive level of autonomy for German-speaking Sud Tirol, the special status of Swedish-speaking Finns, and the constitutional arrangements for German-speaking community in the federal state of Belgium.” Adding that, “All of these political arrangements allow for the national minority to thrive to the extent that in Europe national minorities and their languages are seen as an economic asset in regional development. These are also countries or regions that are naturally bi- and multilingual, speaking both the regional or minority language and the state language, and such areas also offer an example of European best practice for the development of multilingualism.” (Davyth Hicks, Eurolang 2009)