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   Hansjörg Eiff Autonomy as a Method of Conflict Management and Protection of Minorities within the OSCE Framework  1   From the very beginning, autonomy projects have played a substantial role in the efforts of the international community to settle national conflicts such as the ones that, in particular, resulted from the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The OSCE has participated in this process, both operation-ally and in the continuing development of the norms relating to European se-curity. Autonomy arrangements have typically proven to be in demand for certain  portions of the territory in the successor states to Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union where national minorities constitute a regional majority - thus in parts of Croatia, Kosovo, Trans-Dniestria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, the Crimea and Chechnya. As a practical matter, what is usually involved is the attempt to forestall ef-forts at secession by the granting of extensive rights of self-government. The idea is to satisfy the demands of minorities for self-determination in a way consistent with the territorial integrity of the country in question. In the cases mentioned above it is primarily a question of territorial auton-omy, of introducing a special status into a particular area. Thus the terms special status or special status of autonomy or self-government are in some cases used in place of autonomy . The way in which the efforts of the international community are focused on solutions involving territorial autonomy is noteworthy because international law has not, to date, recognized a claim on the part of minorities to the granting of autonomy. 2  Even in the OSCE, minority rights are as a matter of  principle treated as the rights of individuals. The OSCE document which has so far gone farthest in formulating a claim of groups to protection through the granting of autonomy is the one which emerged from the meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE of 29 June 1990 in Co- penhagen; in No. 35 it characterized the establishment of local or autono-mous administrations corresponding to the specific historical and territorial circumstances of certain national minorities as one of the possible means for protecting and promoting their identity. Views similar to those in the Co- penhagen Document were expressed in the Report of the CSCE Meeting of Experts on National Minorities of 19 July 1991 in Geneva in which the par-  1 The article represents the personal opinions of the author. State of affairs as of 30 June 1998. 2 Cf. Hans-Joachim Heintze (Ed.), Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker - Herausforderung der Staatenwelt [The Right of Self-determination of Peoples - A Challenge for the Com-munity of States], Bonn 1997, p. 30. 233  ticipating States - under Point IV, para. 7 - note with interest that positive results have been obtained by some of them by, inter alia , local and auton-omous administration, as well as autonomy on a territorial basis, including the existence of consultative, legislative and executive bodies . As non-committal as these words are in terms of substance - and not just from a legal standpoint - they are by no means without political significance. The Report of the experts meeting in Geneva, in another place (Point II, para. 3), describes issues concerning national minorities as matters of legitimate international concern which consequently do not constitute exclusively an internal affair of the respective State . Now that autonomy has been included in certain OSCE documents on minority matters as a possible form of settle-ment, it has become more difficult to reject international involvement with reference to the principle of non-intervention (as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is presently trying to do in connection with the Kosovo question), even though these texts cannot be regarded as a basis for autonomy claims under international law. It would be desirable to go on developing these texts so as to improve further the possibilities for international involvement in the settlement of minority conflicts. Settlement of conflicts rather than protection of minorities is, for obvious reasons, the predominant motive in the current efforts of the international community to make autonomy workable and it is therefore very much in the foreground. The OSCE has become active in a variety of ways in individual cases. Its efforts range from facilitating dialogue between the parties to working on draft status papers and monitoring settlements that have been reached as well as obligations that have been undertaken. Only in a very lim-ited way can one speak of successes - not surprising in view of the extraordi-nary depth of differences. The only agreement so far on an autonomy statute was in Tatarstan where the Russian government and territorial representa-tives, without international assistance, reached agreement in 1994. (The pro-visions in the Ukrainian constitution of 28 June 1996 on an Autonomous Re- public of the Crimea have to be regarded as a one-sided solution.) 3  The brief summary that follows explains the status of the most important cases that are in dispute. The European Community's so-called Carrington Plan  of October 1991 for former Yugoslavia represents the most ambitious project so far to introduce autonomy as a method of conflict settlement into multi-national states that were once communist. The Carrington Plan provided for three gradations of minority rights: fundamental rights for persons belonging to minorities; ad- 3 Cf. Rolf Welberts, The OSCE Missions to the Successor States of the Former Soviet Union, in: Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg /IFSH (Ed.), OSCE Yearbook 1997, Baden-Baden 1998, pp. 123-134, here: p. 131. 234  ditional political rights of participation where the minority constitutes a sig-nificant part of the population without being a regional majority; and, finally, a special status of autonomy for areas - yet to be determined - in which  persons belonging to a national or ethnic group constitute the majority (see Chapter 2 on Human Rights and the Rights of Ethnic and National Groups). Autonomy status should, inter alia, include a legislative body, an adminis-trative structure, including police, and a judiciary, which would be responsi- ble for matters affecting the territories in question and reflect the composition of the population. In a decision of the Committee of Senior Officials on The Situation in Yugoslavia of 22 October 1991, the CSCE welcomes the introduction of the Carrington proposal and notes with great interest that it covers inter alia  guidelines for implementing the rights of ethnic and national groups. 4  Because a unified settlement on the territory of former Yugoslavia proved to  be unattainable, the approach to solutions had to be adapted to each separate situation. Even so, the provisions of the Carrington Plan dealing with mi-norities continue to be of importance. Reference was made to them in the re- ports of the Badinter Commission on recognition of the successor states to Yugoslavia (1991/1992), which provided the basis for the international com-munity to grant recognition. The autonomy provisions of the Carrington Plan were intended, in particular, for the parts of Croatia with Serbian majorities and for Kosovo. Deficiencies of autonomy in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continue to  be of significance. The OSCE faces particularly big challenges in this regard in Croatia.  Its Long-Term Mission there has important responsibilities in connection with human rights and minority issues. The mandate of the OSCE Mission (Deci-sion No. 176 of 26 June 1997) stipulates that the Mission is to monitor imple-mentation of Croatian legislation and agreements and commitments entered into by the Croatian government on − the return of all refugees and displaced persons and on protection of their rights, and − the protection of persons belonging to national minorities. The suspension (by constitutional law of 20 September 1995) of autonomy  provisions contained in the constitutional law of 4 December 1991 for com-munities and territories with minority populations of more than 50 per cent 4 Fourth CSO Meeting, Prague, 22-24 October 1991, The Situation in Yugoslavia, 4-CSO/Journal No. 1, Annex 3, in: Arie Bloed (Ed.), The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Analysis and Basic Documents, 1972-1993, Dordrecht/Boston/ London 1993, pp. 914-916, here: p. 915. 235  gives cause for concern. The Badinter Commission, at the end of 1991, had especially urged Croatia to adopt the Carrington Plan in its entirety, particu-larly the special status rule. Full adoption of the plan was at the time a clear condition of recognition under international law and President Tudjman had assured the chairman of the Commission in writing that it would be done. Suspension of the provisions in the constitutional law of December 1991 on   special status was criticized on a number of occasions by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in reports to the Security Council. As a result of flight and expulsion, demographic conditions in Croatia are no longer the same as they were in 1991. Even so, there are still valid obliga-tions to ensure the return of refugees and displaced persons without regard to nationality which, if carried out, would over the medium or long term ap- proximately restore the relationships that existed then. It can be expected, therefore, that the OSCE Mission will apply pressure to have the ruling of December 1991 restored. With regard to Kosovo , the international community continues, in view of a 90 per cent Albanian share of the population, to support a territorial auton-omy arrangement without border changes (in which respect for the inviola- bility of borders under point IV.7, para. 4 of the conclusions of the Prague Meeting of the CSCE Council on 30/31 January 1992 would be understood to apply as well to internal borders in former Yugoslavia). This consistent  position on the part of the international community is matched, on the side of the parties to the dispute, by a persistently negative one. The Yugoslav-Ser- bian side has refused to grant territorial autonomy to Kosovo ever since 1989 when it unilaterally abolished the extensive autonomy Kosovo enjoyed under the constitutional ruling of 1974. It takes the position that Serbia and the FRY are fulfilling their obligations to minorities as established by interna-tional agreements. Lately, under pressure from the international community, the Yugoslav-Serbian side has declared itself willing to enter into a dialogue on forms of autonomy. It remains to be seen whether this would include ter-ritorial autonomy. The representatives of the Kosovo-Albanians, for their  part, reject as inadequate any grant of autonomy within the Serbian state, whether through restoration of the former status or in another form. Their declared goal now is the independence of Kosovo. Under these circum-stances it is an open question whether a settlement of the Kosovo issue within the FRY is still possible. Because the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has so far rejected international mediation of the Kosovo issue in principle and only hesitantly and selectively shown itself willing to accept good offices, the international community has so far been unable to become fully engaged. The Working Group on Minor-ity Issues, which was at first located in the International Conference for Yugoslavia (ICFY) and since the dissolution of that Conference at the end of 1995 236
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