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In 1998 the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities entered into force. This study evaluates how the standards of the Framework Convention function in reality and whether the interests of minorities are best served by this form of protection by the international community. The author assesses the use of international principles on rights for minorities in Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, three States with a difficult socio-economic situation and large minority populations. Two specific principles embodied in the Framework Convention are focused upon. The first, the principle of non-discrimination, is discussed with regard to the Roma minority in Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, the Muslim minority in Bulgaria, and in relation to the Bene Decrees affecting the Hungarians and German minority in Slovakia. The second principle, protection of linguistic rights, is discussed in relation to the Hungarian minority in Slovakia and Romania and to the Roma minorities.