Launch of Tallinn Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities (OSCE HCNM) has launched the Tallinn Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age. The high-level digital launch, which featured the High Commissioner, H.E. Lamberto Zannier and the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, was held in Tallinn on 13 February 2019.

Dr. Tarlach McGonagle (IViR) was principal drafter of the new Guidelines, which provide the 57 participating OSCE States with guidance on how to create and safeguard an inclusive space for public debate in diverse societies. The Guidelines pay particular attention to how persons belonging to national minorities and other groups interact in a fast-changing media environment, and how digital technologies can be used to counter hate speech and (online) disinformation. Pluralism and diversity and security-related issues also feature centrally.

The HCNM’s thematic Recommendations and Guidelines to date focus on national minorities and education rights (1996), linguistic rights (1998), participation in public life (1999), the use of minority languages in the broadcast media (2003), policing in multi-ethnic societies (2006), inter-State relations (2008), the integration of diverse societies (2012) and access to justice (2016).

McGonagle was one of the experts involved in the drafting of the 2003 Guidelines on the use of minority languages in the broadcast media. The nexus between freedom of expression, minority rights and the media, was the focus of McGonagle’s doctoral thesis and it is a long-standing research interest of his. He explores some of the issues addressed in the draft Guidelines in: ‘Freedom of Expression of Minorities in a Digital Age: Staking Out a New Research Agenda’, Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe (JEMIE), Vol. 12, No. 4, 2013, pp. 1-15 (April 2014).

The OSCE is the largest regional security organization in the world. It comprises 57 participating States in North America, Europe and Asia. The Office of the HCNM was established in 1992 as a mechanism to provide early warnings of, and prevent, conflicts involving national minorities within the OSCE region. The former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Max van der Stoel, was the first incumbent of the Office.