Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society [Faro Convention]

Author (Person)
Publication Date March 2018
Content Type ,

Background information:

This Convention is based on the idea that knowledge and use of heritage form part of the citizen’s right to participate in cultural life as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The text presents heritage both as a resource for human development, the enhancement of cultural diversity and the promotion of intercultural dialogue, and as part of an economic development model based on the principles of sustainable resource use.

The Faro Convention emphasizes the important aspects of heritage as they relate to human rights and democracy. It promotes a wider understanding of heritage and its relationship to communities and society. The Convention encourages us to recognize that objects and places are not, in themselves, what is important about cultural heritage. They are important because of the meanings and uses that people attach to them and the values they represent.

The Convention was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 13 October 2005, and opened for signature to member States in Faro (Portugal) on 27 October of the same year. It entered into force on 1 June 2011.

The Convention arose from the desire of the Committee of Ministers to provide a framework of reference for heritage policies, particularly in the context of rights and responsibilities in this area and the positive benefits which can be drawn from the use of the heritage as cultural capital, with a view to underpinning existing Council of Europe instruments concerning more specific aspects of cultural heritage.

Formally, the Convention has its roots in the Council of Europe’s work on “Heritage, Identity and Diversity”, following the 4th Conference of Ministers responsible for the Cultural Heritage (Helsinki, May 1996), itself a response to the destruction of cultural heritage during recent conflicts within Europe.

Preparing the Framework Convention:

The Convention text was drafted at a series of meetings of the Select Committee of Experts, held in Strasbourg during 2003 and 2004, taking into account representations received from other related Committees. It was finalised by a Working Group of the Steering Committee for the Cultural Heritage (CDPAT), taking into account suggestions made at its October 2004 plenary meeting. The enlarged Bureau of CDPAT subsequently made minor amendments.
The European cultural heritage is a primary resource for democratic engagement in support of cultural diversity and sustainable development; by the same token, it is a source of prosperity and of unity for the diverse communities present in Europe. Europe’s cultural heritage is treated in this Convention as the “cultural capital” from which, through the investment of human ingenuity and effort, originate the rich and varied cultures of modern Europe. Conservation of this cultural capital is essential, both for its intrinsic value and its potential as an investment from which future development – cultural, social and economic – may be generated.

The Faro Convention is a “framework convention” which defines issues at stake, general objectives and possible fields of intervention for member States to progress. Each State Party can decide on the most convenient means to implement the Convention according to its legal or institutional frameworks, practices and specific experience. Compared to other conventions imposing certain provisions, the “framework convention” suggests and does not create specific obligations for action.
Framework conventions define broad objectives and identify areas for action, as well as the directions in which the Parties agree to progress. There will often be alternative means of achieving the objectives, and it is open to Parties to choose the route most suited to their own national traditions of law, policy and practice, always taking into account the need to ensure that their own approaches are consistent with those of neighbouring States and other Parties.
While previous instruments have concentrated on the need to conserve that heritage, and how it should be protected, this instrument identifies a range of ways of using the cultural heritage, and concentrates upon why it should be accorded value.

Related Links
Council of Europe: Text of the Faro Convention
Council of Europe: Explanatory Report on the Faro Convention
Faro Convention Website

Subject Categories ,
Countries / Regions