Ten years on from its creation, the CDCPP continues to develop standards and best practices, and has overseen the drafting of numerous recommendations (see document CDCPP(2022)6) for adoption by the Committee of Ministers, the main decision-making body of the Council of Europe. Article 15.b of the Statute, provides for the Committee of Ministers to draw up recommendations to member States on matters that concern human rights, democracy or the rule of law and for which the Committee has agreed "a common policy".

A recommendation is not binding to the member States; however, it provides a policy framework and proposals that governments can implement at national level. Since 2001, explanatory memoranda, which are drawn up under the Secretariat's responsibility to make Council of Europe conventions and recommendations easier to understand, are declassified at the same time as the conventions and recommendations they accompany.

In past plenary sessions, the CDCPP has welcomed the launch of such recommendations and expressed its desire to engage with their practical implementation and wide dissemination of the texts at national level. A full list of recommendations relating to culture, heritage and landscape can be found here. The aim of the Thematic Session on the legacy and prospects relating to Council of Europe recommendations in the field of culture, heritage and landscape, was thus not only to examine the successes, but also the obstacles and challenges along the way, as well as future prospects and opportunities regarding the development of such recommendations.


Agenda - 23-25 November 2022


Part 1 of the session was held in the form of a Round Table, moderated by the Chair of the Committee, Flora Van Regteren Altena and led by four experts who approached the topic from their own experiences in culture, landscape, digital technologies or cultural heritage over the years:


Part 2 of the Session facilitated more exploratory exchanges and provided an opportunity for participants to engage in a Q&A exchange, report on their experiences, test ideas and suggest further Committee action.

In a rich and lively debate, many delegates reported the positive role that the Council of Europe recommendations continue to play in their countries. The Council of Europe’s responsiveness addresses key topics and produces instruments that are relevant, topical and innovative. Together with the conventions, they create a unique European framework, providing practical guidelines and impetus for national and regional actors.

Several delegations and observers believed however that these instruments are not sufficiently well-known and do not always have the impact they deserve. The important role of the CDCPP observers in disseminating the recommendations could be better exploited. The member States’ delegations and ambassadors could also do more to deepen their knowledge of the recommendations in the field of culture, heritage and landscape and help spread the word. Once adopted, the recommendations should not be forgotten. Regular exchanges between delegates and their ambassadors are essential as Culture is often absent from the wider debates.


A common dissemination methodology could be envisaged to enhance knowledge and understanding of the instruments by making these instruments more accessible through;

  • concerted efforts to improve impact, using indicators and proven methodologies;
  • translations of the texts, summer schools;
  • use of social media to improve communication and promote exchanges;
  • linkages and cooperation with the other key Council of Europe bodies.

As recommendations did not call for a concrete commitment from the member States (unlike the conventions), maybe some kind of soft monitoring was a good idea to ascertain the impact on the countries and try to adjust the proposals and relevance for different topics, to be in line with the main topical challenges that the countries are facing, a difficult task with 46 member States. Analysing which instrument best fits a specific situation is important for future planning.

In fact, the thematic session was in itself a soft monitoring process that fostered a deeper reflection and generated ideas about the purpose and success of recommendations in that field.

The CDCPP could expand its horizon to other instruments and tools also used by IGOs. In the CDCPP’s Terms of Reference, mention is made of “guidelines” – a flexible and practical tool in this context.

Gilles Rudaz

From the various recommendations produced over the last ten years by the CDCPP, a large number relate to the Council of Europe Landscape Convention. This exceptional richness is partly due to the sector’s long-standing proven working methods which, over time, have delivered concrete results in the form of recommendations. The Landscape Convention has become a compass to direct action on the rich concepts and ideas within. The landscape recommendations can be considered as a kind of toolbox that are ideal for placing the spotlight on the specific themes/issues contained within the Convention.

To illustrate this, two recommendations can be quoted:

  1. As a toolbox and masterpiece in showing how to implement the Convention

Recommendation No R (2008) 3 on the guidelines for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention

  1. As an illustration of how to integrate the landscape dimension (cf Article 5 of the Convention)

Recommendation CM/Rec(2021)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member States for the implementation of the Council of Europe Landscape Convention – Integration of the landscape dimension into sectoral policies

Recommendations are thus a long-standing and effective working method within the landscape sector of the Council of Europe, keeping the Convention highly relevant via conferences for exchange and for creating more in-depth debates on topical issues.

Substantial work and coordination is required from the Secretariat and its resources to help draw up these recommendations and to guide the process from the Landscape Conference to the CDCPP to the Committee of Ministers. The landscape recommendations are important for deepening the debate on current topics and for exploring further topics, such as landscape and health.

Bruno Favel

From a historic point of view, the originality of the Council of Europe in the field of heritage conventions and recommendations is undeniable. From the 1954 European Cultural Convention, adopted shortly after the setting up of the Organisation in 1949, the will has been to act from the cultural point of view and to recognise the culture, cultural heritage and common values of the greater Europe. There is also a richness in the field of heritage and in fact different types of heritage at the Council of Europe in all senses of the word. The Council of Europe remains the European “house of heritage”, thanks to its standards and programmes of activities.

Five major Conventions form the foundation of the culture, heritage and landscape work at the Council of Europe, namely:

The Council of Europe has played an important pioneering role in thinking, strategies and recommendations, for example the European Heritage Strategy for the 21st century (Strategy 21). The 6th Conference of Ministers responsible for cultural heritage, held in Namur, Belgium (April 2015) made it possible for a recommendation to be drafted two years later in order for heritage to be a response to the crises that Europe was facing (climate, identity, ecology, economy).

In May 2019, shortly after the fire that ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe expressed her distress in the face of the vulnerability of heritage. The following year, the Recommendation CM/Rec(2020)7 on promoting the continuous prevention of risks in the day-to-day management of cultural heritage: co-operation with States, specialists and citizens was adopted by the Committee of Ministers and was one of the reference elements for the preparation in France of the “Plan d’action : sécurité cathédrales”. Thus, the Council of Europe is at the heart of many innovative initiatives, for example The European Architectural Heritage Year - “A Future for our Past”, the European Heritage Days, the Herein network, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, the Technical Assistance Programme and many others over the years.

The Council of Europe has been behind so many initiatives – the programmes, recommendations and conventions are interconnected and should be seen as a whole in the implementation of policies. Thus, the recommendations should accompany the conventions in order to ensure practical implementation policies. For example, Recommendation No. R (91) 13 on the protection of the twentieth-century architectural heritage had a real impact in France, and was a phenomenal success. It's important to remember that these instruments already exist, to avoid unnecessary reinvention of texts.


Giuliana De Francesco

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 in the wake of World War 2, to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe and these goals were then anchored to the protection of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and cultural cooperation through the European Cultural Convention of 1954. The Council of Europe is a unique pan European organisation for intergovernmental cooperation in the field of culture.

The main role of the Council of Europe is promoting and setting standards – supporting member States in the effective implementation of conventions to uphold democracy, the rule of law and human rights and to successfully address/resolve the societal challenges impacting Europe.

In 2013, the 10th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Culture decided to involve the cultural sector at the highest political level regarding the digital revolution and the extent to which it strongly influences the cultural environment and is crucial to the viability of creation and cultural diversity. The Ministers requested the Council of Europe to offer a platform for exchange of experiences, good practices and reflection for policy makers, practitioners and civil society on the impact of digitisation on culture.

This platform for exchange was very successful in enabling cooperation across policy makers, experts and civil society organisations and provided stimulating exchanges and led to the adoption of three key far-sighted recommendations, namely:

This process also made the work of the CDCPP relevant vis-à-vis the many transversal initiatives within the Council of Europe, starting with the Internet Governance Strategy and later the initiatives on Artificial Intelligence development that became a political priority in the Organisation and led to the establishment on an ad hoc committee that enabled the participation of the CDCPP as observer.

The CDCPP was meanwhile consolidated in a transversal approach and led to the successful development of the first Thematic Session on AI and digital transformation in the three sections, and a Thematic Session on digital developments in relation to archaeology, including AI.

The 2018 Expert seminar in Rijeka on Culture, Creativity and Artificial Intelligence entitled “E-relevance of Culture in the Age of AI” was a very interesting exchange, with a subsequent publication. The Conclusions of the seminar mention, among other things, that “Arts & Culture need to be part of the dialogue about the information society (be it about digital transformation at large, or AI in particular)” and that “Arts & Culture are key vectors in generating the necessary social intelligence and emancipation to accompany new life practices marked by increasing human-machine interaction”.

In fact, these conclusions fed into the Declaration adopted by the Ministers of Culture in Strasbourg in 2022 at their Conference “Creating our future: Creativity and cultural heritage as strategic resources for a diverse and democratic Europe”. The Ministers acknowledged the potential contribution of the digital transformation to the ideas, principles and values of the Council of Europe, and also the unprecedented challenges that the digital transformation presents to freedom of expression, diversity and democracy.

The Ministers asked the Council of Europe to develop Guidelines on technological developments such as AI complementing Council of Europe standards in the fields of culture, creativity and cultural heritage, and requested the Committee of Ministers to adopt the then draft Recommendation on the role of culture, cultural heritage and landscape in helping to address global challenges. This recommendation was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in May 2022 and is a cornerstone of our activity.

In conclusion, complementing conventions and recommendations with guidelines on specific subjects will add practical value and support to technical work at national level. This is a welcome and useful development to accompany recommendations. The Council of Europe recommendations and conventions provide member States with valuable political and strategic impact that they take into account and that support the evolution and strengthening of European culture.


Kimmo Aulake

From the list of recommendations in the working document, it is noticeable that the landscape conventions are the most numerous and seemingly a means of implementing the legal basis of the Landscape Convention. In this respect, the legal instrument is the framework and the recommendations can be seen as guidelines to help member States to implement that legal instrument. Regarding heritage, there is one specialised recommendation and another which accompanies an ambitious broad strategy (Strategy 21) which in itself is inspired and probably a continuation of the Faro Convention.

In the cultural sector, however, there is no applicable legal basis, no such convention that would form a solid basis from which to build (apart from the specialised European Convention for the Protection of the Audiovisual Heritage and its Protocol on the Protection of Television Productions, and the Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production) and pertaining to issues that can be regulated. The three culture recommendations during the last ten years aimed to frame an important issue of our societies and how digitalisation is affecting everything, but they were without a clear foundation. Under these challenging conditions, the drafting of the three recommendations tried to incorporate the cultural domaine in the broader work of the Organisation on digitalisation, to serve the basic values and objectives of the Council of Europe as well as possible.

Critical assessment of the three culture recommendations:

  1. If these recommendations have not had the impact they could have had, one reason is that the Council of Europe is not a household name vis-à-vis policy discussions on digitisation. The CDCPP is not perceived as the strongest steering committee working with digital issues. This has created difficulties that should be acknowledged.
  2. The impact of the recommendations in the member States can depend on the amount of ownership that individual delegates have over these instruments, and it is not always easy to develop this ownership. The Committee of Ministers adopts recommendations, but the composition of the CM means there is a gap between the Ministries for Foreign Affairs (and their deputies) and the substance ministries. The connections thus have to come through the delegates. Further complications come from the fact that the CDCPP only meets once a year, and the recommendations are usually prepared by a small group of experts/delegates, thus reducing even further the chances for meaningful ownership.

So, there would be a need to link the recommendations to a legal text and a process of implementing a convention. In the case of culture, this legal base is absent. However, stronger political processes could be used as a basis. It is hoped that the Guidelines as a follow up from the Ministerial Conference will be able to keep the political momentum going and thereby build this political basis and become increasingly relevant.

  1. Finally, referring to past experiences, the Committee has often been innovative in its approach vis-à-vis the expectations from the Organisation, even if the importance of this work has not always been taken fully into account. The Council of Europe’s Report of the Wise Persons and its references to developing Council of Europe benchmarks for principles of good democratic governance was for instance exactly what was experimented with Culture Watch Europe, intended to monitor the culture field from the perspective of democracy and the rule of law. Unfortunately, this never really took off, as the resources were not available. Similarly, as regards a democracy index, the Committee developed the first Indicator Framework on the relation between culture and democracy and again, the budget could not sustain the activity at the time. The CDCPP has, in other words, been ahead of the curve on many occasions. The Committee should be brave, and not shy away from statistical or evidence-based data that would allow self-assessment from the member States, even a system of ranking.
Illustration about the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP)
  • Daniil KHOCHABO
  • Alison HELM

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