U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

7. International treaties: Did the country ratify any international treaty dealing with the protection of minorities?

The Framework Convention for the Protection National Minorities signed on February 1, 1995.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority languages signed on November 5, 1992, ratified on May 2, 1996 and enacted on March 1, 1998.

Updated (March 2005)


On February 16, 2005 the Netherlands has become the 36th state to ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). The ratification will enter into force on June 1, 2005.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands limits the provisions of the Framework Convention to the Frisians only and it makes no mention of 5,000 Sinti and Roma people living in the country1.

By accepting the FCNM, the state is obliged to respect and implement a number of principles, including guarantees regarding minority languages in dealing with administrative authorities and in the field of education.

Out of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe six have signed but have not ratified the Framework Convention: Greece, Latvia, Georgia, Belgium, Luxembourg and Iceland. Four countries (Turkey, Monaco, Andorra and France) have not signed the FCNM so far.

Source: Eurolang News, Strasbourg, February 24, 2005, by Simone Klinge, http://www.eurolang.net/ and Mercator News, February 2005, http://www.ciemen.org/mercator/index-gb.htm

  1. and others including Moluccans, Moroccans, Surinamese and Turks, despite the fact that they have long histories within Dutch territory

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Updated (March 2008)


Although the Netherlands signed and ratified the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages as one of the first states ten years ago, it is still failing to implement its provisions.

The Netherlands ratified the provisions in the Charter stating that “a substantial part” of primary education should be given in the minority language. In reality, many primary schools in Fryslân teach Frisian for only one hour per week or even less. Fortunately, this is not the case in all schools – a small network of 15 trilingual schools (Frisian, Dutch and English) is a positive exception.

According to Gerrit Ybema, Chairman of the Advisory Council to the Dutch Government, one of the most important problems is lack of qualified teachers in Frisian primary education. He added the Government has to change this or give more power to the province of Fryslân to take important measures. In terms of finance, the Province is investing significantly more money in the Frisian language and culture than 10 years ago, but the support from the national Dutch Government stayed approximately at the same low level.

Apart from education, Frisian broadcasting also needs to be reinforced in the view of Ybema. “Omrop Fryslân is still seen as one of the 13 regional broadcasters of the Netherlands. The reality is different. They are the one and only broadcaster in a minority language and therefore have different needs.” He believes that Omrop Fryslân should expand towards a more “complete and all-round” broadcaster, producing all types of programs and be given a bigger budget.

The Council of Europe has expressed its regret about the attitude of the Dutch Government. During the last visit of the Committee of Experts to Friesland and the Hague, not only was the Dutch Government too slow in delivering the necessary information but also the information available for the Committee was only in the Dutch language. In regard to the report, Ybema said they have noticed that the Committee’s Report on the Dutch member state is becoming increasingly critical every time.

Source: Eurolang News, March 12,2008 by Onno P. Falkena http://www.eurolang.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3038&Itemid=1&lang=en