Istanbul Charter for European Security (1999) (excerpts)

CHARTER FOR EUROPEAN SECURITY

Istanbul, November 1999

 

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I. OUR COMMON CHALLENGES

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3. We are determined to learn from the dangers of confrontation and division between States as well as from tragedies of the last decade. Security and peace must be enhanced through an approach which combines two basic elements, we must build confidence among people within States and strengthen co-operation between States. Therefore, we will strengthen existing instruments and develop new ones to provide assistance and advice. We will reinforce our efforts to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. In parallel, we will strengthen our capacity to enhance confidence and security between States. We are determined to develop the means at our disposal to settle peacefully disputes between them. 

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THE HUMAN DIMENSION

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19. We reaffirm that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law is at the core of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security. We commit ourselves to counter such threats to security as violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and manifestations of intolerance, aggressive nationalism, racism, chauvinism, xenophobia and anti-semitism.

The protection and promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities are essential factors for democracy, peace, justice and stability within, and between, participating States. In this respect we reaffirm our commitments, in particular under the relevant provisions of the Copenhagen 1990 Human Dimension Document, and recall the Report of the Geneva 1991 Meeting of Experts on National Minorities. Full respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, besides being an end in itself, may not undermine, but strengthen territorial integrity and sovereignty. Various concepts of autonomy as well as other approaches outlined in the above-mentioned documents, which are in line with OSCE principles, constitute ways to preserve and promote the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of national minorities within an existing State. We condemn violence against any minority. We pledge to take measures to promote tolerance and to build pluralistic societies where all, regardless of their ethnic origin, enjoy full equality of opportunity. We emphasize that questions relating to national minorities can only be satisfactorily resolved in a democratic political framework based on the rule of law.

We reaffirm our recognition that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no one should be deprived of his or her nationality arbitrarily. We commit ourselves to continue our efforts to ensure that everyone can exercise this right. We also commit ourselves to further the international protection of stateless persons. 

ISTANBUL SUMMIT DECLARATION

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30. We reaffirm our commitment to ensure that laws and policies fully respect the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, in particular in relation to issues affecting cultural identity. Specifically, we emphasize the requirement that laws and policies regarding the educational, linguistic and participatory rights of persons belonging to national minorities conform to applicable international standards and conventions. We also support the adoption and full implementation of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to promote full equality of opportunities for all. We commend the essential work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities. We reaffirm that we will increase our efforts to implement the recommendations of the High Commissioner on National Minorities.

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31. We deplore violence and other manifestations of racism and discrimination against minorities, including the Roma and Sinti. We commit ourselves to ensure that laws and policies fully respect the rights of Roma and Sinti and, where necessary, to promote antidiscrimination legislation to this effect. We underline the importance of careful attention to the problems of the social exclusion of Roma and Sinti. These issues are primarily a responsibility of the participating States concerned. We emphasize the important role that the ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti issues can play in providing support. A further helpful step might be the elaboration by the Contact Point of an action plan of targeted activities, drawn up in co-operation with the High Commissioner on National Minorities and others active in this field, notably the Council of Europe.