Ethnic Groups

Austrian legal basis and international conventions for the protection of national minorities

Austria is home to 6 indigenous ethnic groups:

  • Burgenland Croats
  • Slovenes
  • Hungarians
  • Czechs
  • Slovaks
  • Roma

Legal basics

Under Section 1 Paragraph 2 of the Ethnic Groups Act, ethnic groups are understood as "such groups of Austrian citizens living in parts of the Federal territory and having a language other than German as mother tongue and having traditions of their own."

As Austrian citizens, members of ethnic groups have the same rights as any other Austrian citizen. Beyond this, however, there are a number of regulations and provisions that contain special regulations for "(autochthonous) ethnic groups" and "linguistic minorities".

International conventions

Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities entered into force for Austria on 1 July 1998. It contains binding principles under international law for the protection of national minorities and requires the states to take measures to protect and promote these minorities. This framework agreement was designed to create a pan-European standard for the rights of ethnic groups.

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a multilateral agreement adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe. The aim of this agreement is to protect historical regional or minority languages as a common European heritage and to promote Europe's cultural richness.

Roma – Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is launching a raft of initiatives to improve the living conditions of Roma. It has published a wide range of information on the history, culture and language of the Roma, which is also intended as guidance for teachers. The brochure "Protecting the rights of Roma" also provides information about the Roma. More information about the human rights work on behalf of the Roma that is undertaken by the European Council is available on the European Council's website.

Austria is particularly involved in the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM).


Susanne Pfanner
Federal Chancellery
Ballhausplatz 2, 1010 Vienna
Phone: +43 1 531 15-20 23 77
Fax: +43 1 531 09-20 21 58

Further information