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.

Switzerland formulated what is known as an interpretative declaration when it ratified the convention. On its territory it protects 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 community, 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 FDFA's Directorate of International Law (DIL) is in charge of coordinating and drawing up the reports. 

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

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

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

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

Monitoring cycles concerning Switzerland 

Documents