OSCE Developments and Linguistic Minorities

Sally Holt and John Packer

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The following is intended to provide an overview of the work carried out by the institutions of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with regard to the protection of the linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities and to indicate significant developments in this regard. By way of introduction, the issue of language is placed within the conceptual framework of the OSCE as an organisation which is concerned primarily with peace and security and against the back-drop of recent political developments within the OSCE area, in terms of post-Soviet State-building, the resurgence of nationalism and threats to peace and security in the OSCE region. Some trends in States' practice in this regard, along with some developments on the part of the OSCE aimed at assisting States in developing good practice regarding the linguistic rights of their minorities, are outlined. Thereafter follows a more detailed analysis of the work of the OSCE institutions in addressing specific language-related issues that have commonly arisen in the course of these institutions' involvements in various States. It is hoped that this account of the relevant work carried out by the OSCE institutions will provide an insight into the way in which the OSCE acts to give meaning and effect to agreed standards aimed at protecting and promoting the linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Holt, Sally and Packer, John. OSCE Developments and Linguistic Minorities. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2001, vol. 3, no.2, pp. 99-126. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol3/issue2/art4

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