Conference of the European Ministers of Culture - 20 - 22 October 2003 - Opatija, Croatie 

Declaration on Intercultural dialogue and conflict prevention

Directorate General IV: Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport
Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage
Cultural Policy and Action Department

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia

INTRODUCTION

The general objective of this text is to specify, in the area which it covers, the roles and responsibilities of the Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs by defining a European framework of co-operation creating on one side the conditions allowing for the promotion and construction of a society based on intercultural dialogue and respect of cultural diversity, and on the other, contributing to the creation of conditions favouring the prevention of violent conflicts, the management and control of conflicts and post-conflict reconciliation. This objective should be reached through the implementation of cultural action programmes involving all generations and aiming at bringing cultures closer, through constructive dialogue and cultural exchanges in all their tangible and intangible components, e.g.: archaeological, architectural, artistic, economic, ethnic, historical, linguistic, religious and social.

The present text builds on a number of texts adopted by the Council of Europe or by other international organisations, including:

- the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (particularly Articles 9, 10, 11 and 14) (Rome, 4 November 1950), hereafter European Convention on Human Rights,

- the Council of Europe’s European Cultural Convention (Paris, 19 December 1954),

- the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (Strasbourg, 29 June 1992),

- the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Strasbourg, 1 February 1995),

- the European Social Charter (Turin, 18 October 1961, revised 3 May 1996),

- the Council of Europe Declaration on Cultural Diversity (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 December 2000),

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- the Final Declaration of the 3rd Ministerial Conference on the Culture of Francophonie (Cotonou, 15 June 2001),

- the Olympia Charter, adopted at the International Symposium “Re-thinking Culture” at the opening ceremony of the Cultural Olympiad (Athens, 23 September 2001),

- the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (Paris, 2 November 2001).

To familiarise readers with the thinking behind the Declaration, the terms “conflict”, “intercultural dialogue” and “cultural diversity”, as used in the text, are defined in an appendix. The principles and approaches which underlie the concepts of “cultural diversity”, “intercultural dialogue”, “good governance in cultural policy” and “inter-sectoral co-operation and exemplary conflict prevention practices” are also explained.

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The Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs of the member states of the Council of Europe,

Aware of the vital importance of culture as a primary vehicle of meaning and tool for understanding, a democratic agent and instrument of individual and collective human development, and as a forum for rapprochement and dialogue between all men and women,

Concerned that new forms of conflict, increasing the difficulties of dialogue between cultures, may be used by certain groups with the avowed or unstated aim of fuelling hatred, xenophobia and confrontation between different communities,

Emphasising the fact that nobody should be harassed on account of his or her lawful opinions, and that every individual therefore enjoys an inalienable right to define and choose his or her cultural and/or religious affiliation and identity,

Aware that cultural “impoverishment” and marginalisation, on the one hand, and prejudice and ignorance, on the other, are among the prime causes of increasing violence and stereotypes of others, thus altering the nature of peaceful and constructive relations between different cultural communities,

Taking the view that it is appropriate to ensure that rapprochement between cultures and intercultural dialogue become a means of conflict prevention at every level and in all its contexts and components,

In line with the European Convention on Human Rights, and respectful of the principles of cultural diversity and freedom of expression,

Sharing a single body of cultural values as a result of their state’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights and to the European Cultural Convention, and agreement to all the ideals and principles which are the Council of Europe’s common heritage,

Bearing in mind that there can be no exceptions to the human rights principles defended by the Council of Europe, given that human rights are not a constraint but constitute the primary source of the principles and action of the Council of Europe and of the States that have ratified the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe,

Taking into account the fact that the Council of Europe is engaged in initiatives aiming to create cooperation networks between regions and cities, and to formulate action plans on the intercultural dimension in the arts, culture or institutional training and mutual cooperation (museums, libraries, archives), between European countries and beyond,

Considering that public authorities may draw, as appropriate, on existing examples of good practices enabling intercultural dialogue when devising public and democratic cultural policies in the national context or in that of inter-state cooperation,

Aware that the present Declaration is based not only on the conventions, recommendations, resolutions and declarations adopted by the Council of Europe within the framework of cultural co-operation activities, but that it also has its source in other international instruments and in numerous countries’ domestic legislation,

Having agreed to base their actions on a set of principles and shared values listed below:

i. respect for the concept of cultural democracy and cultural citizenship that implies rights and obligations;

ii. respect for cultural identities and practices, as well as for expressions of their heritage provided that these comply with the principles upheld by the Council of Europe;

iii. the safeguard and protection of tangible and intangible heritage;

iv. fair treatment for all cultures and beliefs or convictions which respect the principles of the Council of Europe;

v. mutual respect through the recognition of diversity in terms of education on culture, in all its components;

vi. equality in access, participation and creativity of every sector of society so as to take into account the totality of the cultural dimension and promote cultural diversity in the spirit of cultural democracy;

Are determined to implement, in their fields of responsibility, and while respecting where necessary the rules of subsidiarity and national priorities, ways of cooperation with a view to achieving the objectives of the present text, namely the promotion of the respect of diversity, intercultural dialogue and the prevention of conflict;

In so doing, do not intend to supersede, but to co-operate with the responsible authorities at all levels (local, regional, and national) in the other sectors of governmental policy, as well as with civil society;

Express their willingness to work in a co-ordinated manner in the following fields:

A. DIVERSITY AND DIALOGUE

The European Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs intend to preserve the balance which must exist between the safeguarding of cultural diversity and the necessary social cohesion within the various states. The aim is to create and maintain harmonious relations between all groups in society, in the interests of all its members, independently of their culture, ways of life and cultural practices. Respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue as well as of equal opportunity are vital elements of conflict prevention within the framework of a democratic cultural policy.

Aware of the rich nature of cultural diversity in Europe both within and between Member States, the Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs intend to concentrate on encouraging dialogue as one of the bases for conflict prevention. Accordingly, they agree to seek inspiration in the values upheld by the Council of Europe that offer scope for a range of converging measures capable of generating strong synergies.

1. Cultural diversity

Principles and Method appended

The EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS, with respect for the rules of subsidiarity and national priorities, and encouraging their other Ministerial colleagues to develop intercultural dialogue within the exercise of their competences, EXPRESS THEIR COMMITMENT TO:

1.1. ensure the free expression of different forms of artistic, cultural, social, religious and philosophical practice adopted by individuals or specific cultural groups, provided that these individuals or groups abide by the fundamental principles upheld by the Council of Europe, in accordance with the introduction to the present Declaration;

1.2. support cultural and intercultural policies and practices allowing cultural identities to flourish and reach out to other communities;

1.3. protect, according to the means at their disposal, tangible and intangible heritage in all its components;

1.4. condemn all forms of violent and forced assimilation and encourage in all States the creation of the conditions necessary for the development of societies open to cultural diversity

2. Intercultural dialogue

Principles and Method appended

The EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS, with respect for the rules of subsidiarity and national priorities, and encouraging their other Ministerial colleagues to develop intercultural dialogue within the exercise of their competences, CONCUR TO:

2.1. contribute, in full respect of human rights and with particular focus on the local and regional level, to the creation or development of tolerant and equitable relations between States as well as amongst culturally diverse groups settled in the territory of their state;

2.2. endeavour to set up or develop, in their states, actions conducive to intercultural dialogue;

2.3. encourage, at local and regional level, participation in intercultural dialogue in the spirit of cultural citizenship and leading up to cultural democracy;

2.4 create a public space for dialogue and cultural citizenship, allowing for the expression of disagreement, which is not only part of the democratic process but also its guarantee.

B. GOVERNANCE AND INTERSECTORAL CO-OPERATION

The European Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs consider that it is necessary to promote the cultural dimension of democratic citizenship and to foster good governance in cultural policy in association with all actors, relying on intersectoral co-operation and on the dissemination of conflict preventing exemplary practices.

3. Good governance in cultural policy

Principles and Method appended

The EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS, with respect for the rules of subsidiarity and national priorities, and encouraging their other Ministerial colleagues to develop intercultural dialogue within the exercise of their competences, ARE UNITED IN THEIR COMMON GOAL TO:

3.1 consider cultural diversity as a contributor to individual and collective human capital, in the light of sustainable development;

3.2 consider the possibilities of enhancing the intercultural dimension of societies through co-operation, between governmental institutions, the private sector and civil society in order to achieve an interactive reflection;

3.3 acknowledge the importance of the principle of subsidiarity in the framework of the cultural governance of diversity as a principle fostering the empowerment of actors of civil society;

4. Intersectoral co-operation and exemplary conflict prevention practices

Principles and Method appended

The EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS, with respect for the rules of subsidiarity and national priorities, and encouraging their other Ministerial colleagues to develop intercultural dialogue within the exercise of their competences, EXPRESS THEIR DETERMINATION TO:

4.1. promote, with their ministerial colleagues responsible for other public policies, the setting up of intersectoral public policies which foster intercultural dialogue;

4.2. consider the development of knowledge of history, cultures, arts and religions from school age onwards to be of central importance;

4.3. encourage, through cooperation with the ministerial authorities directly competent for matters of education in the different States, the inclusion in school curricula of teaching on historical and contemporary mutual influence between cultures and civilisations, phenomena of cultural cross-fertilisation, in collaboration with representatives of the different components of cultural diversity, including religious diversity, when appropriate and possible;

4.4. contribute to the development of intercultural dialogue by encouraging, whenever possible, actions intended to bring together the different cultural groups through intercultural events and practices, aimed at all age groups and all socio-cultural groups, within programmes implemented by cultural institutions responsible for fine arts, theatre, literary expressions, etc.

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In conclusion, the EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS agree to share their experience in relation to policies and programmes favouring intercultural dialogue or conflict prevention, particularly in the form of an exchange of good practices.

Appendix: DEFINITIONS, PRINCIPLES AND METHODS

For the purpose of the present Declaration, the following definitions are applicable:

- Conflict: for the purpose of this text, the term “conflict” covers forms of -real or masked- disagreement giving rise to resentment and violent behaviour or even injustice which may culminate, at their most exacerbated stage, in destructive and uncontrolled violence. Conflict may be the result of discrimination due to non-recognition of cultural diversity and democratic openness. Conflicts arise for complex and multiple reasons, and their cultural dimension may be the consequence of various causes, including political, economic and social ones. The text proposes actions to promote the management and control of conflicts within European societies characterised by cultural diversity (in all the components mentioned in the Introduction to the Declaration) and post-conflict reconciliation;

- intercultural dialogue: this term defines tools used to promote and protect the concept of cultural democracy, and encompasses the tangible and intangible elements likely to foster all forms of cultural diversity, manifesting themselves in multiple identities whether individual or collective, in transformations and in new forms of cultural expression. Intercultural dialogue must extend to every possible component of culture, without exception, whether these be cultural in the strict sense or political, economic, social, philosophical, or religious. In this context, for instance, inter-faith and interreligious dialogue must be viewed in terms of its cultural and social implications versus the public sphere;

- cultural diversity: “cultural diversity is expressed in the co-existence and exchange of culturally different practices and in the provision and consumption of culturally different services and products”, hence the need to pay attention to differences between and within cultural groups 1 . Cultural diversity should go beyond the “majority/minority” dichotomy and integrate the complementarity between the “universal” and the “singular” so that intercultural dialogue is experienced in a flexible, dynamic and open way. In all its dimensions, cultural diversity gives rise to the enrichment of individuals and groups, and produces not only new forms of social relationships, fuelled by migration and strengthened by exchange processes, but also new forms of multicultural identity. Hence, cultural differences should neither result in a retreat into identity or community, nor justify a policy of forced assimilation, due to a will of domination, as both processes may lead to conflicts. On the contrary, cultural diversity can bring about a strengthening of peace through knowledge, recognition and development of all cultures, including those originating in or existing in Europe, or arriving from geographical areas outside Europe.

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To familiarise readers with the thinking behind the Declaration, the principles and methods on which the concepts are built are explained as follows:

1. Cultural diversity

Principle: It is necessary to distinguish two dimensions within cultural diversity: intra-state diversity which refers to the respect of cultural rights, tolerance, political and cultural pluralism and the ability to accept otherness, and the inter-state dimension of diversity which identifies itself with the principle of equivalence between cultures. The model of an intercultural society is based on the principle of equality between cultures, the value of cultural heterogeneity as well as the constructive dimension of dialogue and of peace. Hence, elements of difference and division must not be viewed as harmful and inimical to the creation of a collective plan requiring differences to be taken into account and otherness to be respected. Cultural diversity is synonymous with exchange and makes it possible to combat the autarky which leads to isolation and xenophobia.

Method: this principle cannot be applied exclusively in terms of “majority” or “minority”, for this pattern singles out cultures and communities, and categorises and stigmatises them in a static position, to the point at which social behaviour and cultural stereotypes are assumed on the basis of groups’ respective status. In contrast, an effort should be made to seek multiple ways of expressing diversity, and to raise citizens’ awareness of the richness of diversity, the more so that globalisation of exchanges can only be conceived of with due respect for diversity.

2. Intercultural dialogue

Principle: intercultural dialogue must be encouraged and fostered. It necessarily comes within the framework of the principles of freedom of thought, of conscience, of religion, of expression, of assembly and of association defined in Articles 9, 10, 11 and 14 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and contributes to the fundamental objective of social cohesion.

Method: the application of this principle cannot be limited to dialogue about convergence; it should include dialogue about what separates cultures and populations. The two aspects of “similarities” and “differences” must not be regarded as alternatives, but more as the two sides of a single coin which should be explored in order to start a true dialogue and to identify solutions so as to transcend apparent or real antagonisms. Communication, information and media must foster intercultural dialogue and mutual respect.

3. Good governance in cultural policy

Principle: while public cultural policy is an essential means of developing democracy in Europe, it is vital that it should create close links with the private sector, and with the civil society sector (associations, NGOs, etc), which are both involved in and also produce culture. The principle of cultural governance is based on the fact that the political, economic and social spheres have a cultural dimension which must never be ignored or neglected. Nonetheless, it is a role of the Ministers of Cultural Affairs to strike a balance between the public sector, private sector and civil society in the cultural sphere. In this field cooperation at European level is highly advisable.

Method: this principle must be applied with a view to including culture among the factors of good governance, enabling intercultural conflicts to be prevented and cultural diversity to be promoted.

4. Intersectoral co-operation and exemplary conflict prevention practices

Principle: the more cultural diversity is promoted by European government officials, social actors, non-governmental organisations and religious communities promoting intercultural dialogue, in addition to the Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs, the more effective intersectoral co-operation on conflict prevention will be.

Method: this principle should be applied to encourage the numerous players to commit themselves to interministerial and intersectoral activities and to collect exemplary “good practices”, reproducible in multicultural sites and areas.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS,
meeting in Opatija (Croatia), from 20–22 October 2003,

aware of the necessity of fully taking into account their new role and new responsibilities to contribute to the creation of conditions favouring the prevention of violent conflict, the management and control of conflicts, and post-conflict reconciliation, while encouraging both cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue,

DECIDE to ensure the follow-up and the evaluation of the concrete forms of implementation of the Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention that they have adopted.

In order to guarantee the implementation of the Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention, the EUROPEAN MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS, encouraging their other Ministerial colleagues to develop intercultural dialogue within the exercise of their competences,

RECOMMEND to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe that the proposals mentioned below be included, as much as possible, in the annual Programme of Activities of the Organisation;

EXPRESS THE WISH that these actions be implemented in coordination with those that may be proposed by the Steering Committees responsible for sectors working in conflict prevention and by the Committee of Ministers’ “Working Party with the task of examining proposals of the Secretary General on multicultural and inter-religious dialogue” (hereafter GT-Dialogue);

CONSIDER PARTICULARLY THAT IT IS NECESSARY TO:

1. request the Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT) to entrust the follow-up and application of the Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention to a project group, in cooperation, as much as possible, with other Steering Committees and GT-Dialogue as well as with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, and in harmony with the follow-up to the relevant decisions on ‘intercultural education’ to be adopted by the 21st Session of the Standing Conference of the European Ministers of Education (Athens, 10 to 12 November 2003);

2. encourage the CDCULT to:

- pursue, even to prolong or develop, the implementation of the Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention Project Action Plan 2002-2004, and

- organise, in a city symbolic of cultural diversity and democracy, an annual Intercultural Forum bringing together researchers, experts, representatives of different forms of cultural diversity, representatives of civil society, cultural players, Culture Ministry officials, in order to closely follow and encourage the different developments of intercultural dialogue;

3. request that the CDCULT:

a. examine the possibilities of implementing a flexible system of inventory and evaluation of good practices, within each member State, destined to encourage and facilitate intercultural dialogue, whether they be implemented at the political-administrative level, or by civil society, in Europe or in cooperation with other regions, more specifically with the south of the Mediterranean;

b. study the means of dissemination of these practices, notably by means of Forums organised within the framework of the Action Plan and the “Compendium” («Cultural policies in Europe: a compendium of basic facts and trends», an on-line information service available at: http://www.culturalpolicies.net.).

Note  Note 
1 This definition comes from the Council of Europe Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 December 2000.