A Seminar “20 Years of the CEI Instrument for the Protection of Minority Rights – A Retrospective Glance and Future Challenges” was held in Trieste on 9 October 2014. It was promoted by the Austrian CEI Presidency and the CEI-Executive Secretariat on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the CEI Instrument.
 
From the very outset of their cooperation, the CEI Member States have devoted particular attention to questions related to national minorities. Such an approach has reflected their intention to give political cooperation a higher profile within the CEI scope of activities, with special regard to national minorities. Elaborating the CEI Instrument was one of the first attempts to create a systematic legal framework for this sensitive area at multilateral regional level.
 
In this context, eminent experts, representatives of governments, NGOs and international organisations dealing with minority issues, such as the CoE, OSCE and the UN, as well as the CEI National Coordinators, were invited to participate in the event and make their contributions. They were asked to compare this document to other available documents and provide their views on its further implementation; to identify and analyse best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives for further tackling the issue on national minorities in the framework of and beyond the Instrument.
 
Some experts outlined the possibility to upgrade and adopt the instrument to the current challenges, including the “new minorities” phenomenon. A collective responsibility towards the minority issue was also voiced, through an increased dialogue among the governments. In this regard, domestic and international legislation were also to be better coordinated, thus making more use of existing instruments. A possible active information campaign was also mentioned through various raising-awareness events, such as seminars, summer schools etc.
Last but not least, financial issues were also raised, namely the need either to set up a dedicated programme or to exploit existing ones.

The Seminar was followed by a concert of the Donauwellenreiter Ensemble. For more information: arsova@cei.int