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Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM)

Published: 12th Oct, 2023


President Vladimir Putin recently introduced a bill greenlighting Russia’s exit from the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).

What is FCNM?

  • FCNM is the world’s most comprehensive legally binding treaty devoted to safeguarding the rights of minority groups. 
  • FCNM was adopted by the Council of Europe in 1994 and ratified by Russia upon its ascension to the multinational body in February 1996. 
  • The convention sets out a handful of principles that the signatories are expected to follow when developing national policies toward various minority groups, including indigenous peoples, stateless minorities and minorities with national autonomy. 
  • FCNM is widely hailed by human rights specialists for covering a vastly diverse set of issues pertaining to minority rights, including the usage of minority languages in media and education and the promotion and protection of minority cultures, histories, languages and religions

Council of Europe

  • Founded in: 1949
  • The Council of Europe is an international organisation (not an EU organisation) in Strasbourg.
  • All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. 

What does this mean for Russia’s minorities? 

Russia is home to representatives of as many as 193 ethnic groups who speak at least 270 languages and dialects

  • Russia’s policies and actions towards minorities have long contradicted some of the key principles of the Framework Convention. Among such discriminatory policies are: 
    • repressionsagainst ethnic and decolonial activists
    • restrictionson teaching and public usage of minority languages
    • forced assimilation and discrimination of ethnic Ukrainians in Russiaand the occupied Ukrainian territories 
    • The denunciation of the FCNM appears to be yet another step on the country’s path toward greater international isolation.
    • Russia’s exit from the convention is a “distressing” development due to the mere fact that human rights defenders will no longer be able to voice their concerns in Strasbourg and consult the Council of Europe on key issues. 

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