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Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe

The Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe was adopted 29 June 1990. The Document emphasizes the respect of national minority rights as inherent to the promotion of democracy.

Article 31

    Persons belonging to national minorities have the rights to exercise fully and effectively their human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before the law.
    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.

Article 32

    To belong to a national minority is a matter of a person's 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 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 of non-exercise of any such rights.

Article 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.

Article 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, 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.

Article 35

    The participating States will respect the right of persons belonging to national minorities to effective participation in public affairs, including 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.

Note: The full text is available on the Internet site of the OSCE.


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