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IRIS 2007-2:3/2

Parliamentary Assembly

Recommendation on Minority Languages and Broadcasting and Inter-Institutional Cooperation

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Tarlach McGonagle

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 17 November 2006, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted Recommendation 1773 (2006) entitled “The 2003 guidelines on the use of minority languages in the broadcast media and the Council of Europe standards: need to enhance cooperation and synergy with the OSCE”.

The Recommendation emphasises the importance of linguistic diversity and linguistic rights for societies generally, as well as their specific importance for persons belonging to minorities for the development of their cultures and identities and for the enjoyment of (equal) access to information. The importance of the media’s contribution to promoting democracy and countering intolerance is also underlined.

These priorities are all affirmed in a number of normative instruments on which the Recommendation draws, such as the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). In addition, the clear thematic relevance of the Guidelines on the use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media (see IRIS 2004-1:3 and IRIS 2004-3:2) is referred to. The PACE’s own texts on relevant themes are recalled, in particular, Recommendation 1623 (2003), “Rights of national minorities”, which calls for, inter alia , the abolition of “restrictions on the establishment and functioning of private media broadcasting in minority languages” (see IRIS 2004-1:4). The complementarity between Council of Europe (CoE) and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) instruments aiming to “guarantee that minorities can use their own languages and that these languages are broadcast by the media” is also stressed.

In the operative part of the text, the PACE recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

- increase its efforts to secure further signatures and ratifications “without reservations and restrictive declarations” by States of the ECRML, the FCNM and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television;

- invite States “to ensure that people belonging to national minorities or using regional or minority languages have a balanced access to public broadcast media and an effective right to establish and use private broadcast media”, in accordance with Article 11 ECRML [entitled “Media”] and Article 9 FCNM [dealing with freedom of expression and access to the media], as elucidated by the work of both treaties’ competent monitoring bodies; relevant PACE Recommendations and Resolutions, and the 2003 Guidelines on the use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media;

- “regularly” take the 2003 Guidelines “into account” in the monitoring of the implementation of the ECRML and FCNM;

- “instruct the competent committee, when revising the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, to amend Article 10 [entitled “Cultural objectives”] of this Convention in order to strengthen multi-lingual audiovisual works as well as audiovisual works produced in regional or minority languages”.

The Recommendation concludes by noting the “potential for enhanced cooperation and contacts” between the CoE and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities and encouraging “further synergies including through practical projects of common interest, in which representatives of civil society could be involved”. The objective of improving cooperation and synergies between the CoE and the OSCE in respect of national minorities also features in the Declaration adopted at the Warsaw Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the CoE in May 2005.

References
The 2003 guidelines on the use of minority languages in the broadcast media and the Council of Europe standards: need to enhance cooperation and synergy with the OSCE, Recommendation 1773 (2006) (Provisional edition), Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 17 November 2006 EN
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=10578
 
Guidelines on the use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media, October 2003 EN
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=10580