HELSINKI DOCUMENT 1992
THE CHALLENGES OF CHANGE
CSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
(1) The participating States decide to establish a High Commissioner
on National Minorities.
(2) The High Commissioner will act under the aegis of the CSO and
will thus be an instrument of conflict prevention at the earliest
(3) The High Commissioner will provide "early warning" and, as
appropriate, "early action" at the earliest possible stage in regard
to tensions involving national minority issues which have not yet
developed beyond an early warning stage, but, in the judgement of the
High Commissioner, have the potential to develop into a conflict
within the CSCE area, affecting peace, stability or relations between
participating States, requiring the attention of and action by the
Council or the CSO.
(4) Within the mandate, based on CSCE principles and commitments, the
High Commissioner will work in confidence and will act independently
of all parties directly involved in the tensions.
(5a) The High Commissioner will consider national minority issues
occurring in the State of which the High Commissioner is a national
or a resident, or involving a national minority to which the High
Commissioner belongs, only if all parties directly involved agree,
including the State concerned.
(5b) The High Commissioner will not consider national minority issues
in situations involving organized acts of terrorism.
(5c) Nor will the High Commissioner consider violations of CSCE
commitments with regard to an individual person belonging to a
(6) In considering a situation, the High Commissioner will take fully
into account the availability of democratic means and international
instruments to respond to it, and their utilization by the parties
(7) When a particular national minority issue has been brought to the
attention of the CSO, the involvement of the High Commissioner will
require a request and a specific mandate from the CSO.
Profile, appointment, support
(8) The High Commissioner will be an eminent international
personality with longstanding relevant experience from whom an
impartial performance of the function may be expected.
(9) The High Commissioner will be appointed by the Council by
consensus upon the recommendation of the CSO for a period of three
years, which may be extended for one further term of three years
(10) The High Commissioner will draw upon the facilities of the ODIHR
in Warsaw, and in particular upon the information relevant to all
aspects of national minority questions available at the ODIHR.
(11) The High Commissioner will:
(12) The High Commissioner may during a visit to a participating
State, while obtaining first-hand information from all parties
directly involved, discuss the questions with the parties, and where
appropriate promote dialogue, confidence and co-operation between
(11a) collect and receive information regarding national minority
issues from sources described below (see Supplement
(11b) assess at the earliest possible stage the role of the parties
directly concerned, the nature of the tensions and recent
developments therein and, where possible, the potential consequences
for peace and stability within the CSCE area;
(11c) to this end, be able to pay a visit, in accordance with
paragraph (17) and Supplement paragraphs (27)-(30), to any
participating State and communicate in person, subject to the
provisions of paragraph (25), with parties directly concerned to
obtain first-hand information about the situation of national
Provision of early warning
(13) If, on the basis of exchanges of communications and contacts
with relevant parties, the High Commissioner concludes that there is
a prima facie risk of potential conflict (as set out in
paragraph (3)) he/she may issue an early warning, which will be
communicated promptly by the Chairman-in-Office to the CSO.
(14) The Chairman-in-Office will include this early warning in the
agenda for the next meeting of the CSO. If a State believes that
such an early warning merits prompt consultation, it may initiate the
procedure set out in Annex 2 of the Summary of Conclusions of the
Berlin Meeting of the Council ("Emergency Mechanism").
(15) The High Commissioner will explain to the CSO the reasons for
issuing the early warning.
(16) The High Commissioner may recommend that he/she be authorized to
enter into further contact and closer consultations with the parties
concerned with a view to possible solutions, according to a mandate
to be decided by the CSO. The CSO may decide accordingly.
(17) The High Commissioner will consult the Chairman-in-Office prior
to a departure for a participating State to address a tension
involving national minorities. The Chairman-in-Office will consult,
in confidence, the participating State(s) concerned and may consult
(18) After a visit to a participating State, the High Commissioner
will provide strictly confidential reports to the Chairman-in-Office
on the findings and progress of the High Commissioner's involvement
in a particular question.
(19) After termination of the involvement of the High Commissioner in
a particular issue, the High Commissioner will report to the
Chairman-in-Office on the findings, results and conclusions. Within
a period of one month, the Chairman-in-Office will consult, in
confidence, on the findings, results and conclusions the
participating State(s) concerned and may consult more widely.
Thereafter the report, together with possible comments, will be
transmitted to the CSO.
(20) Should the High Commissioner conclude that the situation is
escalating into a conflict, or if the High Commissioner deems that
the scope for action by the High Commissioner is exhausted, the High
Commissioner shall, through the Chairman-in-Office, so inform the
(21) Should the CSO become involved in a particular issue, the High
Commissioner will provide information and, on request, advice to the
CSO, or to any other institution or organization which the CSO may
invite, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter III of this
document, to take action with regard to the tensions or conflict.
(22) The High Commissioner, if so requested by the CSO and with due
regard to the requirement of confidentiality in his/her mandate, will
provide information about his/her activities at CSCE implementation
meetings on Human Dimension issues.
Sources of information about national minority issues
(23) The High Commissioner may:
(24) Such specific reports to the High Commissioner should meet the
(23a) collect and receive information regarding the situation of
national minorities and the role of parties involved therein from any
source, including the media and nongovernmental organizations with
the exception referred to in paragraph (25);
(23b) receive specific reports from parties directly involved
regarding developments concerning national minority issues. These
may include reports on violations of CSCE commitments with respect to
national minorities as well as other violations in the context of
national minority issues.
(25) The High Commissioner will not communicate with and will not
acknowledge communications from any person or organization which
practises or publicly condones terrorism or violence.
they should be in writing, addressed to the High Commissioner as
such and signed with full names and addresses;
they should contain a factual account of the developments which are
relevant to the situation of persons belonging to national minorities
and the role of the parties involved therein, and which have taken
place recently, in principle not more than 12 months previously. The
reports should contain information which can be sufficiently
Parties directly concerned
(26) Parties directly concerned in tensions who can provide specific
reports to the High Commissioner and with whom the High Commissioner
will seek to communicate in person during a visit to a participating
State are the following:
Conditions for travel by the High Commissioner
(26a) governments of participating States, including, if appropriate,
regional and local authorities in areas in which national minorities
(26b) representatives of associations, nongovernmental
organizations, religious and other groups of national minorities
directly concerned and in the area of tension, which are authorized
by the persons belonging to those national minorities to represent
(27) Prior to an intended visit, the High Commissioner will submit to
the participating State concerned specific information regarding the
intended purpose of that visit. Within two weeks the State(s)
concerned will consult with the High Commissioner on the objectives
of the visit, which may include the promotion of dialogue, confidence
and cooperation between the parties. After entry the State
concerned will facilitate free travel and communication of the High
Commissioner subject to the provisions of paragraph (25) above.
(28) If the State concerned does not allow the High Commissioner to
enter the country and to travel and communicate freely, the High
Commissioner will so inform the CSO.
(29) In the course of such a visit, subject to the provision of
paragraph (25) the High Commissioner may consult the parties
involved, and may receive information in confidence from any
individual, group or organization directly concerned on questions the
High Commissioner is addressing. The High Commissioner will respect
the confidential nature of the information.
(30) The participating States will refrain from taking any action
against persons, organizations or institutions on account of their
contact with the High Commissioner.
High Commissioner and involvement of experts
(31) The High Commissioner may decide to request assistance from not
more than three experts with relevant expertise in specific matters
on which brief, specialized investigation and advice are required.
(32) If the High Commissioner decides to call on experts, the High
Commissioner will set a clearly defined mandate and timeframe for
the activities of the experts.
(33) Experts will only visit a participating State at the same time
as the High Commissioner. Their mandate will be an integral part of
the mandate of the High Commissioner and the same conditions for
travel will apply.
(34) The advice and recommendations requested from the experts will
be submitted in confidence to the High Commissioner, who will be
responsible for the activities and for the reports of the experts and
who will decide whether and in what form the advice and
recommendations will be communicated to the parties concerned. They
will be nonbinding. If the High Commissioner decides to make the
advice and recommendations available, the State(s) concerned will be
given the opportunity to comment.
(35) The experts will be selected by the High Commissioner with the
assistance of the ODIHR from the resource list established at the
ODIHR as laid down in the Document of the Moscow Meeting.
(36) The experts will not include nationals or residents of the
participating State concerned, or any person appointed by the State
concerned, or any expert against whom the participating State has
previously entered reservations. The experts will not include the
participating State's own nationals or residents or any of the
persons it appointed to the resource list, or more than one national
or resident of any particular State.
(37) A separate budget will be determined at the ODIHR, which will
provide, as appropriate, logistical support for travel and
communication. The budget will be funded by the participating States
according to the established CSCE scale of distribution. Details
will be worked out by the Financial Committee and approved by the