First Meeting of the Select Committee of Experts
to draft the new Convention on the European Heritage
In May 2003, Amra Hadžimuhamedović was appointed as a member of the Select Committee of Experts to draft the new Convention on the European Heritage.
The Committee's first meeting was held on 11 and 12 September 2003 in Strasbourg.
The other members of the Committee are: Benedicte Selfslagh, Belgrium; Prof. Todor Krestev, Bulgaria; Prof. Janne Vilkuna, Finland; Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, Holy See; Sean Kirwan, Ireland; Juris Dambis, Lithuania; Dug Myklebust, Norwat; Guilherme d'Oliviera Martins, Portugal; Jelka Pirkovič, Slovenia; Jose M. Losada, Spain; Maria Jansen, Sweden; Claire Foley, United Kingdom.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Council of Europe's DGIV.
On 15 January 2003 the Council of Ministers directed that work begin on drafting a framework convention on the cultural heritage as a cultural resource. The travaux préparatoires of the Office of the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage (CDPAT) resulted in a preliminary outline, which was presented at the first meeting of the Committee of Experts.
The following approach was agreed at the meeting:
1. The provisions of the convention should be separate from the provisions of existing conventions governing the mechanisms for the identification, protection and conservation of various categories of the cultural heritage. This convention should focus on the significant social function of the heritage in globalization trends, in a political and economic context that is different from the one that prevailed when earlier conventions were drafted.
2. The new convention should in no way repeat the established approach or overlap with projects under way within other institutions such as UNESCO.
3. As part of efforts to develop a European region of peace, democratic stability and prosperity, the convention should set out fundamental principles and the clearly defined obligations of public authorities. This particularly relates to the relationships between groups of the population with different traditions coexisting in Europe and to providing a framework for the sustainable use of the heritage as a development resource.
4. The convention will introduce a new definition of the heritage, with the emphasis on the human and social dimension (knowledge, transmission, achievements)
5. The convention will expand the definition of the common heritage referred to in earlier texts but not specifically defined.
6. The new text will build on the original efforts of the Council of Europe, back in 1975, to link the environment and culture. The on-going and growing debate on how to achieve the sustainable use of cultural and natural assets makes that part of the convention the most complex and the most important.
After two days' work and exchange of views by the Committee's experts, the starting points were defined and the modus operandi was established.
Three separate working groups have been set up charged with drafting individual sections of the convention by the Committee's next meeting, to be held on 22 and 23 March 2004:
A) political principles and definitions (6 Committee members)
B) the sustainable use of the cultural heritage; cultural differences (4 members of the Committee + two experts on globalization)
C) obligations, enforcement and monitoring (4 Committee members).
Following the work of the working groups, in March 2004 a draft Convention will be agreed, which will then be further polished up in smaller working groups set up as needed. In October 2004 the draft will be presented to the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage, and then submitted to the Council of Ministers. In any event, if the process does not go smoothly, it could be extended into 2005.
A meeting of Working Group B, with which Amra Hadžimuhamedović will be working, has been agreed for 24 and 25 November 2003. By then each member of the working group should have a draft text with an elucidation of the section of the convention for which Group B is responsible.