Re: UN HR Field Office in Abkhazia concerned about Georgian schools


To: MINELRES list submissions <minelres-l@riga.lv>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 10:37:53 -0800
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Subject: Re: UN HR Field Office in Abkhazia concerned about Georgian schools

From: MINELRES moderator  <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Fernand De Varennes  <Fernand.DeVarennes@eurac.edu>

Re: UN HR Field Office in Abkhazia concerned about Georgian schools


I would like to make a few comments concerning a recent posting to
the MINELRES-L concerning the language of education in public schools in
Abkhasia, where the following was stated:

> "The right of parents to choose the kind of education given
> to their children is strongly protected in international law, as seen
> in Article 26(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article
> 4(a) of the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education;
> Article 2 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights;
> Article 13(3) of the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social
> and Cultural Rights; Article 18(4) of the United Nations Covenant on
> Civil and Political Rights; and Articles 5 and 29 of the United Nations
> Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as in other
> international treaties."

I would like to point out that there have been a large number of
publications and even an international decision (the Belgian Linguistic
Case refers to the first point to some extent) that make it clear that the
right of parents to choose the kind of education given to their children
does not include the right to public education in the language of one's
choice. Nor do any of the other provisions refered to in the UNHR
document quoted above guarantee such a right.

However, it is possible to argue that the exclusion of the Georgian
language as medium of instruction in the Gali district is in breach of
Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
as well as Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights
and Liberties in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol 1. In other
words, what must be used in this context is not the right to education
standing alone, but the argument that in the Georgian/Abkhasian
context, the exclusion of the Georgian language from public schools
in the Gali district is an arbitrary or unreasonable language distinction,
and that it is therefore discriminatory.

To only use the argument that there is a right to use any language
prefered by parents as medium of instruction in public schools because
of the right involving a "kind of education" is bound to fail as it has failed
in the past.

Dr Fernand de Varennes

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