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. It entered into force for Switzerland on 1 February 1999, following its ratification on 21 October 1998.

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is the only 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 framework convention does not define what a national minority is. States are free to determine which minorities they wish to protect on their territory.

According to Switzerland's interpretative statement when it 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".

The following are currently recognised as Swiss national minorities: national linguistic minorities, members of the Swiss Jewish community, and of the Yenish and Sinti/Manouche communities, whether nomadic or not.

Text of the framework convention

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

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, assisted by an advisory committee of experts, reviews and evaluates how states parties apply the framework 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 five reports dedicated to the implementation of the framework convention, the most recent of which was submitted in October 2021. The FDFA's Directorate of International Law (DIL) coordinates the preparation of these reports. It also liaises and maintains contacts with the Council of Europe.

For the first time, the 5th periodic report has been combined with the report on the implementation of another Council of Europe convention, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which is the responsibility of the Federal Office of Culture of the FDHA.

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

Rapport cumbinà da la Svizra davart la realisaziun da la Convenziun da basa dal Cussegl da l'Europa per proteger las minoritads naziunalas e da la Charta europeica da las linguas regiunalas u minoritaras (PDF, 81 Pages, 2.3 MB) (romansh)

On 13 February 2023, the Advisory Committee adopted the fifth Opinion on Switzerland. (PDF, 32 Pages, 1.2 MB, English)

Swiss authorities' Comments on the fifth Opinion (PDF, 12 Pages, 622.1 kB, French)

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


Last update 28.06.2023

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