Access to justice for persons belonging to national minorities from a conflict prevention perspective is the focus of a new set of recommendations for OSCE participating States, which were launched by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier today at the University of Graz, Austria.
The Graz Recommendations on Access to Justice and National Minorities aim to support OSCE participating States’ efforts to improve national minorities’ trust in the justice system. Lack of trust can undermine social cohesion, foster alienation and increase the risk of ethnically motivated conflict.
“I urge participating States to facilitate access to justice to everyone in society, by ensuring that every aspect of the justice system is accessible to national minorities,” said Zannier. “This includes removing obstacles, such as language barriers, promoting diversity and providing timely redress to victims of human rights violations, among other recommendations.”
“We are pleased that the new set of recommendations by the High Commissioner is launched in Graz under the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship,” Ambassador Florian Raunig, Head of the OSCE Task Force said. “Equal access to justice for everybody, including persons belonging to national minorities, is an essential element for confidence in governmental institutions and in consequence secure and stable societies.”
Access to justice is not only about the enjoyment of rights; it also is vital to prevent marginalization and systemic discrimination. It is therefore intimately connected to conflict prevention within and between States, which is central to the HCNM’s mandate.
Lack of access to justice and disillusionment with the state may also encourage minority communities to look for support from neighbouring states or states from the region with which they share ethnic or cultural characteristics. This can further increase domestic and inter-State tensions.
Since the institution was established almost 25 years ago, the successive High Commissioners have encountered a number of recurring issues that could lead to inter-ethnic tensions. In response, the High Commissioners have published eight thematic recommendations and guidelines providing insight and advice for States on national minority issues.