Senate ratifies Faro Convention on the importance of cultural heritage to society

With 147 votes in favor, 46 against and 42 abstentions, the Senate approves the Faro Convention. The text now passes to the House for second reading.

With the Senate voting in favor (147 in favor, 46 against and 42 abstentions), Italy is moving closer to adopting the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, also known as the Faro Convention from the city in Portugal where it was introduced, on Oct. 27, 2005. The legislativeprocess for the adoption of the Convention, signed by Italy in 2013, has been particularly tribulated and has been waiting for six years for its conclusion (but now, with the Senate voting in favor, the end is in sight: the next passage will be to the House for the second reading of the ratification bill).

In favor were Pd, Movimento 5 Stelle, Italia Viva, Liberi e Uguali. The League voted against, while Forza Italia senators abstained. Also opposed was Pentastellata senator Margherita Corrado, who voted against her group. Satisfied was the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Dario Franceschini: “The Senate’s ratification of the Faro Convention,” he said, “is an important step toward Italy’s adoption of this important document promoted by the Council of Europe. An act that recognizes cultural heritage as a crucial factor for the sustainable growth of the territory. I hope that the next passage in the House will be as shared as possible, since culture is an issue that unites and overcomes oppositions.”

The Faro Convention starts from the premise that, as stated in the unofficial Italian translation available on the Museums Directorate General website, “one of the objectives of the Council of Europe is to achieve a closer union among its members in order to safeguard and promote those ideals and principles, founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, which constitute their common,” the value and potential of a cultural heritage can be resources for sustainable development and quality of life, and every person has the right “to take an interest in the cultural heritage of his or her choice as part of the right to participate freely in cultural life, as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The text consists of 23 articles divided into three parts (Objectives, Definitions and Principles; The Contribution of Cultural Heritage to Society and Human Development; Shared Responsibility to Cultural Heritage and Public Participation; Monitoring and Cooperation; and Final Clauses). Article 1 recognizes “that the right to cultural heritage is inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” recognizes “an individual and collective responsibility to cultural heritage,” and emphasizes “that the preservation of cultural heritage, and its sustainable use, have as their objective human development and quality of life.” It goes on to state that “ cultural heritage is a set of resources inherited from the past that peoples identify, regardless of who owns them, as reflecting and expressing their evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions,” and that a community of heritage consists of a group of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage, and who wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit them to future generations“ (art. 2); that ”all forms of cultural heritage in Europe which together constitute a shared source of remembrance, understanding, identity, cohesion and creativity“ (art. 3), that everyone has the right to ”benefit from cultural heritage and to contribute to its enrichment,“ and that ”the exercise of the right to cultural heritage may be subject only to such limitations as are necessary in a democratic society for the protection of the public interest and of the rights and freedoms of others" (art. 4).

Again, the Convention commits European countries to “highlight the value of cultural heritage through its identification, study, interpretation, protection, preservation and presentation,” to ensure the right for all to enjoy it, to “foster an economic and social climate that supports participation in activities relating to cultural heritage,” to “promote the protection of cultural heritage” (art. 5), to “encourage reflection on the ethics and methods of presenting cultural heritage, as well as respect for the diversity of interpretations,” to “develop knowledge of cultural heritage as a resource for facilitating peaceful coexistence” (art. 7), to “promote an integrated approach to policies affecting cultural, biological, geological and landscape diversity in order to achieve a balance among these elements” (art. 8), to “define and promote principles for sustainable management and to encourage maintenance” (art. 9). The potential of cultural heritage as a factor in economic development is also emphasized, so the Convention commits countries to “raise awareness of the economic potential of cultural heritage and utilize it,” to “consider the specific character and interests of cultural heritage when planning economic policies,” and to “ensure that these policies respect the integrity of cultural heritage without compromising its intrinsic values” (Art. 10).

Regarding the management of cultural heritage, the Convention commits the parties to “promote an integrated and well-informed approach by public institutions in all sectors and at all levels,” to “develop innovative methods for public authorities to cooperate with other actors,” to “respect and encourage voluntary initiatives that complement the roles of public authorities,” to “encourage nongovernmental organizations interested in heritage preservation to act in the public interest” (art. 11), to encourage participation by all (art. 12), to “facilitate the inclusion of the cultural heritage dimension in all levels of education, not necessarily as a specific subject of study, but as a fruitful source for other fields of study as well,” to “encourage continuing professional training and the exchange of knowledge and skills, both within and outside the educational system” (art. 13), to strengthen “initiatives that promote content quality and strive to protect linguistic and cultural diversity in the information society,” to foster “international standards for the study, preservation, enhancement and protection of cultural heritage, while combating illicit trafficking in cultural property,” to combat barriers that limit access (art. 14), to monitor laws, policies and practices on cultural heritage (arts. 15, 16, 17).

Senate ratifies Faro Convention on the importance of cultural heritage to society
Senate ratifies Faro Convention on the importance of cultural heritage to society

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