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Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was opened for signature by Council of Europe member states in 1995. Switzerland ratified the convention on 21 October 1998 and it entered into force for Switzerland on 1 February 1999.

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is the first legally binding multilateral instrument dedicated to protecting national minorities in general. Its aim is to protect national minorities on the territory of the states parties concerned.

National minorities in Switzerland

The convention does not define what a national minority is. States are free to choose which minorities to protect on their territory.

Under the interpretative declaration formulated when Switzerland ratified the Framework Convention, Swiss national minorities are:

"groups of people who i) number less than the rest of the population of the country or canton, ii) are Swiss nationals, iii) have long-standing, solid and lasting links with Switzerland, and iv) are committed to preserving their common identity together, particularly their culture, traditions, religion or language".

Switzerland currently recognises the following groups as national minorities: national linguistic minorities, members of the Jewish communities, Yenish, Sinti and Manouches, whether nomadic or not.

Text of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Council of Europe

Chart of signatures, ratifications and dates of entry into force for the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Council of Europe

Review by Council of Europe

An advisory committee assists the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to review and evaluate how states parties apply the convention. States parties are required to report periodically on measures they have taken to implement the convention. The Committee of Ministers issues conclusions and recommendations as a result of this monitoring cycle.

Switzerland has submitted four implementation reports on the convention; the fourth report was published in February 2017. The FDFA's Directorate of International Law (DIL) is in charge of drawing up the reports. 

The fifth report was combined with a report on the implementation of another Council of Europe convention, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which is the responsibility of the FDHA's Federal Office of Culture (FOC). 

Switzerland's combined report of 1 October 2021 (PDF, 84 Pages, 2.5 MB, French)

Text of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Fourth report by Switzerland on the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (PDF, 82 Pages, 716.2 kB, German)

On 31 May 2018, the Advisory Committee adopted the fourth Opinion on Switzerland. (PDF, 37 Pages, 1.8 MB, English)

Swiss authorities' Comments on the fourth Opinion (PDF, 57 Pages, 1.5 MB, French)

Resolution of Committee of Ministers/14 May 2019 (PDF, 2 Pages, 296.3 kB, English)

Monitoring cycles concerning Switzerland


Documents

Last update 26.01.2022