The history of the 20th century made it clear that persons belonging to national minorities are in need of special protection. The aim of the article is to establish whether the mechanism of the Council of Europe, with a variety of approaches and working methods at its disposal, really makes a difference to the protection of national minorities. Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (adopted in 1995) as the primary document guaranteeing protection by the Council of Europe to persons belonging to minorities and The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages adopted in 1992 to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe, are precisely analyzed in the article, also within the context of the effectiveness of their control mechanisms. The previous protection, based only on the general rule of non-discrimination (article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights) was insufficient, although the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had an important role to play in clarifying the scope and application of article 14 to persons belonging to national minorities. The author also presents the case-law of the ECHR. Considering the fact that the Convention and Charter contain mostly programme - type provisions, the article presents the activity of the control bodies - especially Advisory Committee on Minorities, which has put a lot of time into interpreting the provisions as well as providing guidance to States on how to implement them. The author also presents practical and political obstacles to full implementation of the provisions mentioned above.
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