Special measures for advancing ethnic minorities or groups that have suffered past discrimination should be taken when circumstances warrant, but should not be maintained after the objectives for which they were taken are met, and should not result in the maintenance of unequal rights for different groups.
- States parties shall, when the circumstances so warrant, take, in the social, economic, cultural and other fields, special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These measures shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been met.
- The Parties undertake to adopt, where necessary, adequate measures in order to promote, in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life, full and effective equality between persons belonging to a national minority and those belonging to the majority. In this respect, they shall take due account of the specific conditions of the persons belonging to national minorities.
- Special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups or individuals requiring such protection as may be necessary in order to ensure such groups or individuals equal enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms shall not be deemed racial discrimination, provided, however, that such measures do not, as a consequence, lead to the maintenance of separate rights for different racial groups and that they shall not be continued after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.
- The Committee also wishes to point out that the principle of equality sometimes requires States parties to take affirmative action in order to diminish or eliminate conditions which cause or help to perpetuate discrimination prohibited by the Covenant. For example, in a State where the general conditions of a certain part of the population prevent or impair their enjoyment of human rights, the State should take specific action to correct those conditions. Such action may involve granting for a time to the part of the population concerned certain preferential treatment in specific matters as compared with the rest of the population. However, as long as such action is needed to correct discrimination in fact, it is a case of legitimate differentiation under the Covenant.
- The Court considers that the lack of clarity of the electoral law as regards national minorities and the lack of sufficient guarantees as to the impartiality of the bodies responsible for examining the applicant’s challenges impaired the very essence of the rights guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol No. 1.
- [States should foster citizen participation in the electoral process by] ensuring the design of the electoral system and the delimitation of constituencies [should] facilitate the effective participation of minorities in the election process and thus promote minority representation as a factor guaranteeing interethnic peace and stability.
- Reserved seats can be used to ensure the representation of specific minority groups in the legislature.
- Further, in order to alleviate the effects of past discrimination and to enhance future participation, it is appropriate for the legal framework to include special electoral rules and voting arrangements for national minorities.
- Measures to help promote adequate national minority representation might include reserving a set number of parliamentary seats for specific minorities, waiving the threshold for the number of votes received so that parties representing national minorities may be represented in parliament and the provision of electoral material, including ballot papers, as well as voter education and campaign materials in minority languages.