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In order to strengthen respect for, and enjoyment of, human rights and fundamental freedoms, to develop human contacts and to resolve issues of a related humanitarian character, the participating States agree on the following:
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(30) The participating States recognize that
the questions relating to national minorities can only be satisfactorily
resolved in a democratic political framework based on the rule of law,
with a functioning independent judiciary. This framework guarantees full
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, equal rights and status
for all citizens, the free expression of all their legitimate interests
and aspirations, political pluralism, social tolerance and the implementation
of legal rules that place effective restraints on the abuse of governmental
They also recognize the important role of non-governmental organizations, including political parties, trade unions, human rights organizations and religious groups, in the promotion of tolerance, cultural diversity and the resolution of questions relating to national minorities.
They further reaffirm that respect for the rights of persons belonging to national minorities as part of universally recognized human rights is an essential factor for peace, justice, stability and democracy in the participating States.
(31) Persons belonging to national minorities
have the right to exercise fully and effectively their human rights and
fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before
The participating States will adopt, where necessary, special measures for the purpose of ensuring to persons belonging to national minorities full equality with the other citizens in the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
(32) To belong to a national minority is a matter
of a personís individual choice and no disadvantage may arise from the
exercise of such choice.
Persons belonging to national minorities have the right freely to express, preserve and develop their ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity and to maintain and develop their culture in all its aspects, free of any attempts at assimilation against their will. In particular, they have the right
(32.1) to use freely their mother tongue in private as well as in public;
(32.2) to establish and maintain their own educational, cultural and religious institutions, organizations or associations, which can seek voluntary financial and other contributions as well as public assistance, in conformity with national legislation;
(32.3) to profess and practise their religion, including the acquisition, possession and use of religious materials, and to conduct religious educational activities in their mother tongue;
(32.4) to establish and maintain unimpeded contacts among themselves within their country as well as contacts across frontiers with citizens of other States with whom they share a common ethnic or national origin, cultural heritage or religious beliefs;
(32.5) to disseminate, have access to and exchange information in their mother tongue;
(32.6) to establish and maintain organizations or associations within their country and to participate in international non-governmental organizations.
Persons belonging to national minorities can exercise and enjoy their rights individually as well as in community with other members of their group. No disadvantage may arise for a person belonging to a national minority on account of the exercise or non-exercise of any such rights.
(33) The participating States will protect the
ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of national minorities
on their territory and create conditions for the promotion of that identity.
They will take the necessary measures to that effect after due consultations,
including contacts with organizations or associations of such minorities,
in accordance with the decision-making procedures of each State.
Any such measures will be in conformity with the principles of equality and non-discrimination with respect to the other citizens of the participating State concerned.
(34) The participating States will endeavour
to ensure that persons belonging to national minorities, notwithstanding
the need to learn the official language or languages of the State concerned,
have adequate opportunities for instruction of their mother tongue or in
their mother tongue, as well as, wherever possible and necessary, for its
use before public authorities, in conformity with applicable national legislation.
In the context of the teaching of history and culture in educational establishments, they will also take account of the history and culture of national minorities.
(35) The participating States will respect the
right of persons belonging to national minorities to effective participation
in public affairs, including participation in the affairs relating to the
protection and promotion of the identity of such minorities.
The participating States note the efforts undertaken to protect and create conditions for the promotion of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of certain national minorities by establishing, as one of the possible means to achieve these aims, appropriate local or autonomous administrations corresponding to the specific historical and territorial circumstances of such minorities and in accordance with the policies of the State concerned.
(36) The participating States recognize the particular importance of increasing constructive co-operation among themselves on questions relating to national minorities. Such co-operation seeks to promote mutual understanding and confidence, friendly and good-neighbourly relations, international peace, security and justice.
Every participating State will promote a climate of mutual respect, understanding, co-operation and solidarity among all persons living on its territory, without distinction as to ethnic or national origin or religion, and will encourage the solution of problems through dialogue based on the principles of the rule of law.
(37) None of these commitments may be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or perform any action in contravention of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, other obligations under international law or the provisions of the Final Act, including the principle of territorial integrity of States.
(38) The participating States, in their efforts to protect and promote the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, will fully respect their undertakings under existing human rights conventions and other relevant international instruments and consider adhering to the relevant conventions, if they have not yet done so, including those providing for a right of complaint by individuals.
(39) The participating States will cooperate
closely in the competent international organizations to which they belong,
including the United Nations and, as appropriate, the Council of Europe,
bearing in mind their on-going work with respect to questions relating
to national minorities.
They will consider convening a meeting of experts for a thorough discussion of the issue of national minorities.