AS (2012) CR 04
2012 ORDINARY SESSION
Tuesday 24 January 2012 at 3.30 p.m.
In this report:
1. Speeches in English are reported in full.
2. Speeches in other languages are summarised.
3. Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.
The contents page for this sitting is given at the end of the report.
Mr Mignon, the President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.35 p.m.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The sitting is open.
1. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (continued)
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – I remind members that the ballot for the election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has now reopened, and it is taking place behind the President’s Chair until 5 p.m. Two tellers were appointed this morning, Mr Valeriy Fedorov and Mr Neugebauer, and they will go to the back of the President’s Chair. The results will be announced before the sitting rises this evening or, if that is not possible, the first thing tomorrow morning.
2. The right of everyone to take part in cultural life
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The next item of business is the debate on the excellent report entitled “The right of everyone to take part in cultural life” (Document 12815) to be presented by Ms Marland-Militello on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media. We have the great pleasure of hearing a statement from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
I remind members that speaking time has been limited to three minutes this afternoon.
In order to allow time for our last debate, we must interrupt the list of speakers at about 6.15 p.m. to leave time for the reply and the votes. Is this agreed?
It is agreed.
I call the rapporteur, Ms Marland-Militello. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate. You have the floor.
Ms MARLAND-MILITELLO (France) said that much was heard on the subject of cultural politics but effective participation in cultural life was an essential right of the individual. It was necessary to balance the mind and the emotions in order to enrich the intellectual development of the individual. Thus, the right of access to a cultural life was essential to the development of an individual’s identity.
The principle of a right of access to a cultural life could be implemented in a number of different ways. Public authorities should oversee the equitable implementation of policies in these areas. They should respect the right of an individual to choose cultural pursuits but the authorities themselves should remain culturally neutral.
The resources of public and private enterprise needed to be pooled. Networks and partnerships were needed in order to promote the sharing of cultural resources. State funding for cultural enterprise should be reviewed and scrutinised as this was too easily a budget line which public authorities reduced in order to balance a budget. Successful projects which had proven their worth should be prioritised and a culture of performance-based results should be paramount. The state should act to protect artists’ creations, especially on the internet: intellectual property infringements threatened future creativity. This was an issue that was especially important to young people.
In fact, young people were of particular importance because they represented society’s future and it was every nation’s duty to provide opportunities for the young. Cultural development should be promoted at a young age in order to encourage participation in cultural life in adulthood and this was a good way to enrich a nation’s cultural heritage. The role of schools in this respect was especially important. Schools represented an ideal environment in which to ensure equal opportunities of access to a cultural life. The education system should include mandatory art courses and the artistic element of every subject should be respected. Learning to see, feel and look was just as important as academic study. School was a place where children connected both with each other and with their cultural environment and, without fostering this aspect of school life, all the resources in the world would not be effective in promoting national cultural life. Culture was also derived from the grass roots and from young people and it was necessary to understand how the latter used the internet and how to promote multidisciplinary uses of that medium.
Higher rates of participation in cultural life relied on priority being given to projects which enabled individuals to engage actively with culture. This was vital for all people, young or otherwise. It was important to adapt approaches to suit all social groups, including the most vulnerable and the poor. For example, street shows and live performances should be promoted. Full realisation of an individual’s artistic potential was essential to that individual’s identity and, in turn, contributed to the peaceful co-existence of nations and fostered good relations among world citizens.
THE PRESIDENT said how much he had appreciated Ms Marland-Militello’s performance and thought that it was a pity that she had not been speaking from the rostrum so that the whole audience could have appreciated her.
He welcomed Ms Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. He considered her ideally placed to address the subjects of education and access to cultural life as human rights. He congratulated her on the way she ran UNESCO.
Ms BOKOVA (Director-General of UNESCO) thanked the President for his kind words and said that at the core of UNESCO’s business was the promotion and definition of cultural rights and ensuring that they were incorporated into public policy. Access to, and participation in, the culture of an individual’s choice were essential and these rights were recognised by the universal declaration in 1948. They were also referenced in Article 5 of UNESCO’s universal declaration on cultural diversity, unanimously adopted in 2001, which stated that all individuals should be able to create and disseminate cultural works in the language of their choice.
Notwithstanding this declaration, cultural rights had not received the same attention as other rights and she thought that this was a pity. There was a tendency to consider cultural rights as a luxury, which was not a new problem. From the beginning, the international community had felt the need to set out the nature and scope of these rights so that they might acquire the same protection as other rights. For more than 65 years, UNESCO had attempted to set out the regulatory framework in this respect and to stress new facets of culture. Each new UNESCO convention, for example those relating to world heritage in 1972, cultural heritage in 2003 and the diversity of cultural expression in 2005, had represented a new building block in the tower of cultural rights. UNESCO was a driving force for participation in cultural life. In the 1972 UNESCO Convention on World Heritage, the condition for inclusion as a world heritage site was to be a site of truly exceptional value.
It was important to preserve cultural diversity as a distinct hallmark of society. In order to establish economic support for cultural life, such as funding models for artists, it was vital to take account of all the many different aspects of culture. UNESCO had been trying to do this through various pilot projects. In particular, UNESCO was working to encourage freedom of access and multilingualism in cyberspace. However, UNESCO could succeed only if its cultural diversity projects were supported by policies at a national level.
Culture was the key to human development. It gave sense to human existence, and provided a framework for self-expression. The active participation of individuals in cultural life was vital if cultural values were to endure over time. The main obstacle to this sort of durability was the failure to recognise that culture and development were indivisible. Cultural participation reinforced and multiplied social cohesion. Countries that were trying to rebuild themselves, such as Tunisia and Egypt, could do so by drawing on their cultural heritage.
UNESCO’s efforts to promote cultural participation had led to the adoption of resolutions by the United Nations in 2010 and 2011 recognising the importance of culture in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. UNESCO was keen to develop a means of measuring cultural participation and looked forward to working with the Council of Europe to achieve this.
It was also important to recognise that cultural participation should be seen as part of the wider initiative to support sustainable development and the protection of the environment.
Cultural rights were very diverse and they were difficult to codify. Culture encompassed far more than simply the fine arts: it also embraced social practices, consumption of popular music, lectures, and religious ceremonies. The UNESCO declaration on cultural diversity would aim to clarify the meaning of cultural rights. The report would make a useful contribution to this work and UNESCO would continue to co-operate closely with the Council of Europe on this.
The third reason for the neglect of cultural rights was the perception that cultural rights could compete with and even undermine other human rights. The position of UNESCO on this was clear: cultural rights were an integral part of human rights. Human rights were guaranteed under international law and could not be infringed in this way. The March 2011 report of independent experts to the Human Rights Council had confirmed that cultural rights would not undermine other human rights. Globalisation linked all societies and cultures together. It provided an opportunity to increase the universal nature of cultural rights by supporting individual cultures. It was vital to balance all human rights and this had to include the rights to participate in, and have access to, culture. The very fact that nations with different cultural heritages were able to come together and debate in multilateral settings such the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe demonstrated that the necessary co-operation was possible.
THE PRESIDENT thanked Ms Bokova and said that he hoped the Assembly would continue to co-operate with UNESCO. He called Mr Hancock to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – It is nice to see you in your position as President; it is nice to have friends in high places. I hope to benefit from that some time.
I speak on behalf of the Liberal Group and suggest that the overwhelming majority of my colleagues fully support the rapporteur in what she has said. However, I have some reservations about the report; it reminded me of the English expression, “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” I think that this is what this report suggests. You can create all the apparatus but at the end of the day there needs to be a spark, something that comes to life in people’s lives and in their being that gives them the thrill of being involved and participating, included rather than excluded, from something that we are discussing this afternoon – the cultural life of our society.
Sadly, I wasted a lot of my time in education; I never took an exam in my life. I found it very difficult to cope but one of the biggest thrills in my life was when I first learned to read. It was at a rather older age than most kids, as I devoted most of my time and energy to the culture of football and sport. You did not have to be able to read too much or be able to add things together, but you had to learn to juggle a football. Sadly, I devoted far too much time to that. It was only when I finally knew how to read properly that I read everything I could. It was the biggest thrill of my life to be able to take a book home and read it. But I still see children in my own city who are denied that opportunity for one reason or another, either because of their parents’ lack of interest, sadly, or the groups around them or the pressures they are under to watch television or play on the internet rather than achieving the thrill that I got from reading a book.
That first step is a big step to take: we have to do more to include people. We have to make sure that in place is not the museum of culture that we take children to, the historic museum depicting famous battles and what-have-you, important though they are – the most important ingredient to get children involved in culture is to give them that spark and to endeavour to find the right people in their lives, whether it is their parents, their teachers, their peer group or friends, to make sure that the door of inclusion is open. Sadly, in Europe today, too many doors are closed. Because of better-off parents being able to afford to do more with their children, the price of inclusion is too high for some parents to pay. So a whole generation grows up, right across Europe, never having the thrill of involving themselves and become participating consumers in culture as well as players.
We have to do all that we can to give that opportunity to the young people of this continent; our failure to do so is, I think, a form of neglect and child abuse.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you Mr Hancock. I call Ms O’Sullivan to speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Ms O’SULLIVAN (Ireland) – Thank you Mr President. The idea that it is a human right to freely participate in culture has had very little discussion really, so I welcome the report. It is an interesting report but also a challenging one for the members of the Council of Europe. Respect for and tolerance of culture is basic to democracy. It would contribute to, as the report says, “harmonious living together and peace between peoples.”
The other challenge is for the members of the Council of Europe to take the guidelines and use them to inform national policies and translate them into action. National governments need to provide space to allow groups to organise, develop and participate in cultural expression. Cultural expression and participation will foster respect, inclusion, democratic participation, principles aligned with democracy, as well as protection of alternative forms of identity, minority identities and historic forms of identity. What is important is to promote the culture which is all-inclusive and will embrace all forms of identity contained within a country, including the identity of its diaspora.
Governments also need to promote equal access to cultural participation for all their citizens, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, social economic status and health status. No one culture has the right to dominate another in terms of leading the other cultural expression to obscurity, extinction or even secrecy. Culture is also about identity – our culture expresses who we are but it also has to be cognisant of the identities and cultures of others.
The debate this morning on Bosnia and Herzegovina – a country with a variety of cultures – is a good example of where it is vital that there is respect for diversity and the ability to live with diversity, but there can be a thin line between cultural identity and cultural supremacy. It is sad that culture and identity have been instruments of division and have contributed to feelings and expressions of supremacy and acts of aggression. My own country – Ireland – has also seen culture being used to create and sustain barriers between people. That is not what cultural identity is about.
Many countries in Europe, including my own, are facing budgets of austerity and cutbacks, and culture, cultural events and the arts are often among those areas to experience significant cuts. However, those areas can do so much to promote feelings of self-worth and self-esteem and be a force of positivity in difficult times.
There is also a particular inequality in the participation of culture. I refer to those who are physically, intellectually and mentally challenged, the impoverished elderly, low-income families, minority groups and also women in certain countries. For those who are physically and mentally challenged, there can be barriers to attending cultural events, visiting places of interest, historic sites and buildings. Plans for new buildings must take that into account. The United Nations Enable project as it stands has done major work in this area, recognising the rights of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others. Apart from the access aspect, Article 30 states the rights of persons with disabilities, “to utilise their creative, artistic and intellectual potential.” There are challenges here for us, but I welcome the parts of the report that deal with young people and foster their talent.
There are so many areas of conflict, aggression and discrimination, and I believe that culture and cultural activities can and should be a bridge to dialogue and mutual respect.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. I call Ms Kovács on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – Distinguished President, ladies and gentlemen, I begin by congratulating our dear colleague, the rapporteur Ms Marland-Militello, on doing a tremendous job.
The best known cultural right is the right to education. “Culture” also refers to the customs and lifestyles of specific communities, and the right of everyone to take part in cultural life is an important right. What is even more important is that those being deprived of this right lose the opportunity responsibly to exercise other rights through lack of awareness of their full identity. Moreover, access to different arts and cultural expression contribute to mutual understanding and trust, which are the basis for reconciliation and peace. Art and culture are powerful ways to share and promote values in a serene and trusting intercultural dialogue.
On the other hand, for national minorities, access to culture and participation in cultural life is important for the protection of their identity. As a representative of a national minority – Hungarians living in Vojvodina – I must stress the importance of multicultural and intercultural dialogue, which improves understanding of differences. Furthermore, it is important to encourage local and regional cultural initiatives that seek the cultural, historical, social and economic promotion of a given area.
Real access to cultural rights can ensure peaceful and harmonious coexistence within a region or a country, and between people. Vojvodina, as a multicultural region, is a good example of how cultural rights are key to living together in multicultural societies. It is necessary to allow everyone to construct an identity for themselves as individuals and as citizens, in harmony with their cultural, social and political environment.
As a rapporteur on the Convention on Youth Rights, and someone who was lucky enough to meet some 500 young people from all around Europe in the past two years, I am more than happy that the rapporteur has promoted youth participation in cultural life in this report. As we all know, youth is the period of life when we learn and garner new experiences, before our social position begins to weigh on our different behavioural and cultural choices. Do not forget: learning to read, write and count is essential, but learning to see, hear and feel is equally essential. The need for the pleasures of the eye and the ear are also fundamental human needs.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Ms Karamanli has the floor on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Ms KARAMANLI (France) said that, against a backdrop of considerable public and private debt, so-called second level expenditure such as cultural education was being reduced. The right to access culture in all its forms was a human right and the state and the community had a key role. In particular, the challenges for young people were an issue.
She thanked the rapporteur, the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media and all involved in producing the report, and said that, in ancient Greece, cultural life was integrally linked to life as a citizen and that link was still relevant today. Involvement in cultural life and increasing participation in cultural pursuits brought considerable benefits. It was therefore important that States invested in access to cultural pursuits. Culture should not be sacrificed at the time of a financial crisis.
The report highlighted many important measures and tools, but it was important that there was accompanying political will. If there was a lack of action in respect of supporting and promoting culture, then society would be impoverished. The role of the Council of Europe was vital in this respect.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. I call Mr Heald on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr HEALD (United Kingdom) – May I congratulate you on taking office, Mr President? It is a great pleasure to be under your chairmanship.
Culture is civilising and is a vital human right: it helps us to build society, and it also builds relations between different peoples. I am standing just behind Mr Valeriy Federov, and I well remember the last time the United Kingdom and Russia had a bit of an argument. The Russians were flocking to the British Council in Moscow to see various programmes that we were putting on. The Russians kindly lent us their art collection, and it was the most popular art exhibition in London for many years. That just shows that culture and art can be a great way of bringing peoples together. Culture is of course also a human right.
I agree very much with Ms O’Sullivan and Mr Hancock that it is particularly important to have an active, committed policy that actually gets young people involved in culture. It was marvellous to hear the rapporteur give such an impassioned plea for this, and I want to pay tribute to the scale of the report and the time it has taken to prepare such a detailed piece of work. It really highlights some of the practical issues we need to address and the barriers to the involvement of young people, be it money, social situation, living in a rural area rather than a city – where a lot of art is located – disability, compartmentalisation of art or a shortage of venues. All those points are very well taken.
The questionnaire pointed to the key role that schools play. Having well-trained teachers who really understand culture and art is at the heart of this. To enjoy Shakespeare you need to know what the language means, and having a good teacher who can really explain it to you is a tremendous start in life. I first saw a Shakespeare play at night in the grounds of Reading abbey, where the battlements and the old ruins were used to display Macbeth. It was a frightening and exciting experience. My teacher had told me what the language meant, and it really was the most exciting thing; it engaged a young person immediately. So we want more in the way of exciting, quality art that is well done, and we need to use, for example, the United Kingdom chairmanship here. Art and culture are well to the fore in the “So British” initiative, which the United Kingdom chairmanship is running.
I could go on for hours, but I do think this is an excellent report.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Mr Heald.
Ms Marland-Militello, you will be able to reply at the end of the debate, but do you wish to comment at this stage?
That is not the case, so I call Mr Legendre.
Mr LEGENDRE (France) said that in the age of mass culture it might seem that a report on the right to take part in cultural life was paradoxical. However, while there was a plentiful supply of culture there remained issues about demand. Attempts to make cultural pursuits enjoyable for everyone risked leading to standardisation. Plurality was desirable.
The right to participate in culture required a revolution in approach. The State had its role to play and he supported comments that the State should re-evaluate its programmes of cultural education. Schools should give lessons in culture but should also integrate cultural references into all subjects taught.
The methods now available, in particular digitisation, should be taken advantage of to better distribute culture.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Mr Legendre. I call Ms Blondin.
Ms BLONDIN (France) welcomed the report saying that culture was a universal right that was not properly defended.
Universal access to culture had not been fully achieved; indeed, there had been some retreat in this respect due to the economic, social and moral crises. Culture was a conduit for the development of people as individuals and their role in society and was essential. Local authorities had recognised the importance of culture and had taken action to remove barriers that prevented access to it as culture was key to social cohesion.
There needed to be a partnership between the State and local authorities so that cultural institutions could reach out to children, remote communities and secular groups. There was a risk of setting the lowest common denominator and there was a need to be vigilant in this area.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Ms Blondin. I call Mr Aivaliotis.
Mr AIVALIOTIS (Greece) agreed that young people should take part in culture and that in all States there needed to be access to culture. If there had been equal access, the Elgin Marbles would have been returned from the United Kingdom to Greece.
On the 38th anniversary of the attack on Cyprus, it was necessary to ask what UNESCO had done. For example, hundreds of religious icons along with other cultural property of Cyprus had been stolen. They had been sold on the arts market and subsequently those sales had been legitimised.
It was important not to falsify historical facts. Alexander the Great’s teacher had been Aristotle, although this was denied by some. It was also important that Europeans did not to turn a blind eye to these matters.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Mr Aivaliotis.
I remind colleagues that the ballot for election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will close at 5 p.m. sharp. Will any member still wishing to vote therefore go and do so now?
I now call Mr Rouquet.
Mr ROUQUET (France) congratulated the rapporteur on an excellent report. He shared the view that a right to a cultural life was a human right. André Gide once said that culture was what was left when everything else was gone. Culture was a great leveller and therefore access had to be guaranteed. The French politician Aurélie Filipetti had recently given an interview saying that culture had given her access to broader horizons and had enabled her to escape her humble roots. However, highlighting the importance of culture was not enough. He, himself, had come to a love of opera rather late in life and through a chance encounter. He would never have discovered his profound love of opera had it not been for an accident of fate because opera had not been a feature of his family life. The report said that individuals needed to uncover their own natural artistic talent in order to discover a wider cultural life. Although the current economic crisis was a harsh reality, culture became even more important in such straightened times and local authorities had a duty to fund cultural projects in these circumstances.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. I call Mr Schneider.
Mr SCHNEIDER (France) congratulated the President on his election and the rapporteur on her report and said that the right to participation in cultural life needed to be guaranteed by all governments as a fundamental right. He had been privileged to teach for 33 years in difficult areas of Strasbourg. His pupils had been considered under-privileged and access to culture was considered difficult for them because of
their background. An astonishing amount of talent would have been lost had culture not been promoted in the schools in which he had taught: it was a joy to teach and give a child an appetite for culture so that they could become avid consumers.
Sociologists had, in the past, criticised access to culture for the masses. Cultural capital give a person an elite status in society. These were Marxist writings but, rather than making culture accessible, the opposite was happening. Such an approach had a perverse effect and the consequences were disastrous. Everyone should have access to a cultural life and this right was highlighted in the report. Society should not give up on the transmission of culture just because it was difficult or expensive. Culture could be promoted and not just inherited.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. I call Mr Marquet.
Mr MARQUET (Monaco) said that access to culture promoted peaceful co-existence through mutual understanding. It was the responsibility of the State and local authorities to assure that access. State and public institutions should work with the private sector. It was especially important that young people should not be allowed to become culturally disengaged. In each society, many different cultures and traditions could be found and this was the basis of multi-culturalism. It followed that modern societies should promote culture as a method of social cohesion and that common values and standards should be respected. Social exclusion was a particular problem. Disability could prevent access to education and culture. Culture was intangible and it was difficult to see how legislation in this area could be effective; nevertheless, each individual had a right to a cultural life and it was essential to assist those who were most vulnerable or isolated. More work was needed on the issue of cultural minorities.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. I now call Ms Schou.
Ms SCHOU (Norway) – I thank the rapporteur for her work on an issue which I very much agree is pivotal to the system of human rights. Participation in cultural life is a key to awareness and developing an identity. This is important for each individual and also for society as a whole. To be able to respect others, it is important to know oneself. To be able to respect and appreciate other cultures, you must know your own. The responsibility that each State carries when it comes to culture stems from this, and each and every Council of Europe member State is responsible for letting all its citizens take part in cultural life. Paragraph 13.4.3 in the draft recommendation is essential. Exchanging good practices is especially useful in the field of culture.
Children go to school. Giving children the opportunity to explore culture as spectators, participants and performers gives them a platform to take part in cultural life. Let me share an example from Norway. Since 2001, Norwegian schoolchildren have benefited from the “cultural rucksack” national programme. It is state-funded and managed by the Ministries for Culture and for Education and Research, and it is carried out by schools and cultural institutions. Its objectives are to give children access to professional, artistic and cultural productions, to facilitate their acquaintance with, and understanding of, culture in its various forms, and to assist schools in integrating cultural expression in school life.
Each year, winners are selected for the “golden rucksack”. The 2011 winning school starts every day with a cultural gathering where the pupils showcase their work, such as singing, dancing, acting or art pieces. The school co-operates with professional artists from various cultural fields and has had a cultural anchor to its work for more than 30 years.
In my constituency, a gallery called Point Ř is partnering with schools through the “cultural rucksack”. More than 10,000 children visit it every year, and I have seen with my own eyes how this has benefited the youth in my area.
In closing, I would like to quote the principal of the school that won the “golden rucksack” in 2011, Mrs Bodil Alver Moen: “Through culture we learn life.”
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Ms Schou. I call Mr Frécon.
Mr FRÉCON (France) congratulated the President on his election and said that the right to participate in cultural life made it important to maintain the diversity of cultural heritage and practices. It also made it important that each individual should have access to the resources necessary for cultural development. In this respect, museums, galleries, cultural centres and the like were essential. The private sector had a role in developing a cultural market but the State also had a role as guarantor of social cohesion and, therefore, the free expression of cultural practices. Totalitarian States had used culture to consolidate control. Modern democratic States needed to facilitate the diversity of culture and make culture available to its people. Cultural programmes should not be put on hold just because of the need for austerity: the budgets for cultural projects, especially outreach projects, should not be cut. The State should recognise its duty to protect and promote cultural heritage and ensure the right of the individual to participate. Indeed, the access of citizens to cultural events and projects could be thought of as an indicator of the success of a democratic State.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – I understand Ms Bokova needs to leave by 5 p.m. Ms Bokava, would you like to make a few very brief remarks in response to the debate before you must leave?
Ms Bokava, you have the floor.
Ms BOKOVA (Director-General of UNESCO) congratulated the rapporteur on her report and noted her passion for culture. She had enjoyed the rich debate, which had been in tune with the dialogue taking place within UNESCO and she was sorry that she had to leave before the end.
Marginalised sections of society needed to be guaranteed access to culture because culture was what made people human. Culture was socially inclusive and embodied fairness. Culture created jobs and was a vehicle for development. In developing countries, 6% to 12% of GDP came from cultural activities. Society should promote culture during the economic crisis. She was encouraged by the co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNESCO and thanked members for their participation. She looked forward to continuing co-operation.
THE PRESIDENT thanked Ms Bokova for addressing the Assembly, and said that her contributions had greatly enriched the debate. He called Ms Gafarova.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – Thank you very much, Mr President. Dear colleagues, first, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Marland-Militello, for the report. This issue is important and significant for Europe because nowadays the right of everybody to take part in cultural life and the protection of world cultural heritage are two important principles. National States should therefore pay more attention to this matter.
I would like to inform colleagues of the measures taken by the Azerbaijani State in this direction. Azerbaijan, incorporating the cultures of east and west, is rich in cultural heritage. In this context, great responsibility to preserve this heritage falls on the State. The Azerbaijani Government applies substantial and comprehensive measures to develop national culture, encourage effective activity within its various spheres, protect cultural and historical heritage and support talented young people.
To implement that, various State programmes have been developed and are being implemented. In these programmes, great importance is attached to the establishment of new democratic forms of cultural management and to diverse co-operation with international organisations such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
One of the important measures undertaken by the Azerbaijani State to develop culture is the involvement of representatives from civil society, particularly non-governmental organisations. To encourage the activity of NGOs in this field, sufficient financial facilities have been allocated through a council for the support of NGOs run under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
If we are talking about the right of everybody to take part in cultural life and about the protection of cultural heritage, we must not refrain from discussing the problems and menaces hindering it. As a result of the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh territory and seven adjacent towns of the Republic of Azerbaijan over more than 20 years, many historical-cultural monuments have been destroyed by Armenian occupants. Some of the monuments disappeared completely. There are official data on it. These cultural monuments were part not only of Azerbaijani culture but of world cultural heritage, but they have been lost to the present and the future. As a result, future generations will be deprived of the right to make use of them. I appeal to the international community to pay more attention to this matter and to take appropriate measures against the aggressor State.
In conclusion, I would like to state again that the aim of Azerbaijan is to preserve and maintain the past, support and develop the present and look ahead with confidence. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you very much. Ms Christoffersen, you have the floor.
Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – Mr President and dear colleagues, the report states that cultural rights are pivotal to human rights. I could not agree more. Cultural rights are about opportunities for developing people’s abilities, sharing enriching experiences in community with others and re-enforcing democratic citizenship and social cohesion. Culture breaks down walls and is an eminently suitable material for building bridges between people.
One hundred years ago, in 1903, the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth organisation was founded. The second point of its mission statement states that its members should update themselves on current cultural, literary and political development – in that order. Ever since, cultural rights have been essential in our labour movement, both as an aim in itself and as a political weapon and a means to build an inclusive society. Because of this political heritage, our present red/green government set out an important target: to raise the cultural budget to 1% of GNP. In six years, this great effort of culture has nearly doubled the State budget allocation for culture to 9.5 billion Norwegian krona – about €250 per citizen per year.
Culture has no upper limit of consumption. The more you enjoy, the more you demand. But there is still a big drawback. The pattern of culture consumption does not seem to change. People who have performed and consumed culture in the past continue to do so to a much larger extent, and those who have not, still do not. The gap is widening and follows traditional social dividing lines, and people with low incomes, disabled people and immigrants are among those with the lowest culture consumption. Market supply is no solution.
This is partly about money but presumably also about universal design and the composition of the cultural menu. Poverty in Norway today is not mainly the result of a lack of money for food and clothing; it is more about children not being able to go to the cinema or take part in sports activities. When it comes to the integration of immigrants, we have a large advantage because, according to annual surveys, 74% of Norwegians believe that immigrant culture enriches cultural life in Norway.
In response to the challenge of inequality, our Government recently presented a White Paper on culture and inclusion that will form the basis of an important debate in parliament this spring. In that debate, the main political message should be that the greater people’s access to culture, the more talented society will be, the richer the common experience will be and, in the end, the more democratic our society will be. This report will contribute to our national debate. I thank the rapporteur and I thank colleagues for their attention.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Ms Christoffersen. Ms Zohrabyan, you have the floor.
Ms ZOHRABYAN (Armenia) said that the right to participate in cultural life was at the heart of the human rights system and should not be forgotten. It was vital to promote cultural links and dialogue both within cultural groups and between different societies. The Assembly had often discussed the matter of participation of national minorities in cultural life, but it had also heard accounts of acts of cultural destruction such as the destruction of the centuries-old Armenian khachkar crosses in Jugha.
The Assembly had been unable to send a delegation to the scene of these actions and both the Assembly and the European Parliament had shown themselves to be unable to prevent actions of this kind which had wiped out the cultural heritage of entire groups. It was still the case that Armenians in Turkey were not permitted to erect crosses on their churches or hold masses in these buildings. European organisations had failed to take action to address this. The United States House of Representatives had recently passed a resolution calling for Turkey to end discrimination of this kind, but the Turkish State had responded by further threatening the rights of the Armenian people. It remained the case that in many member States of the Council of Europe minorities were unable to exercise their religious and cultural rights. Lofty declarations alone would never address this problem
(Mr Kox, Vice-President of the Assembly took the Chair in place of Mr Mignon.)
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now have to tell the Assembly that we will close the election for the Human Rights Commissioner. If there are still people who intend to go and vote, they should do it now. That is not the case, I now close the ballot for the election of the Council of Europe Commissioner of human rights.
In the debate, I next call Mr Szabó.
Mr SZABÓ (Hungary) agreed that participation in cultural life was a crucial part of human life and a driving force in the development of societies. It was necessary to guarantee participation in cultural life. The report proposed further work on this issue both by individual countries and in co-operation with the Council of Europe and UNESCO. Cultural rights could be assured only by tackling discrimination on the basis of cultural identity. The right to use one’s mother tongue was a key part of this identity. The report did not address the issue of the cultural rights of minorities because this had been covered in various UNESCO declarations between 2001 and 2005. These declarations had called for the respect of all cultures including minorities. Many associated issues remained to be resolved. For example, many ethnic and national minorities continued to suffer legal discrimination against their mother tongues. The Council of Europe needed to work together with national governments to address this.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I next call Mr Toshev.
Mr TOSHEV (Bulgaria) – Thank you. Dear Ms Marland-Militello and distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, culture is an important part of our society, which is closely bound with the level of our civilisation. The report is very well targeted at this particular aspect of cultural life.
Cultural life should not be considered as a privilege for a small part of society but should be extended for all. In this respect, we should underline the fact that cultural life is not allocated only for some professional higher-ranked artists, actors, writers, poets and musicians – it is open for every member of our society.
It is anticipated that the active participation in cultural life would bring about enhanced structural cohesion, fight against social isolation and significantly help to avoid the marginalisation of social groups and social apathy. It could also contribute to encouraging the emergence of active democratic citizenship. Art is a collective phenomenon. I give the example of art therapy, which has produced rather satisfactory results in the treatment of children from Kosovo who have been traumatised by the horrors of war, and are suffering depression and psychological disorder.
Without a cultural life, people would feel frustrated, isolated and marginalised, and consequently would not participate in society as active members. It would not be good for the development of democracy. That is why the question before us is not whether, but how, to bring people closer to active participation in cultural life.
I feel tempted to share our example of the Bulgarian-French festival the “Journee Ronsardienne” held on 24 to 26 April 2009 in the town of Svishtov, which is my native town. It is a Bulgarian town on the Danube. During the event, all citizens of Svishtov and the region of north Bulgaria were actively approached to write their own poetry on a big flipchart especially situated in the municipal gardens. In order to attract people and to make them acquainted with the poetry of Ronsard directly – not in the library – on each tree stem in the municipal gardens was hooked a big leaf with a piece of Ronsard’s poetry on it so that everybody who was passing could stop for a moment and read it. As a consequence, the people were able to compare their pieces of poetry with that of the prince of the poets and to value the high level of art.
With great enthusiasm, the schools and high schools in the region also organised a poetry competition and the best pieces received awards. During the festival, several French and Bulgarian actors, musicians and singers also performed their arts.
Of course, there were also other concomitant events, but I would like to finish by saying that the adoption of guidelines for such cultural policies should be implemented by member States and not remain only on paper. After the reform of the Assembly, we have a follow-up mechanism to pursue with this issue.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr Toshev. I call next Ms Fataliyeva.
Ms FATALIYEVA (Azerbaijan) – I thank the rapporteur very much for an interesting and important report.
Every nation has its history, specialities and traditions but culture is likely to be one of the most important factors for the future of every nation. Nations respecting their history, traditions and culture should also respect different cultures and different history.
The history of our country shows that Azerbaijan has been within different empires for many years. Despite this, we have preserved our language, music, traditions, culture and identity. Unfortunately, laws dominating today in politics and economics around the globe are too far from justice and ethical norms. We live in a world where wars and conflicts continue in many different places, claiming millions of lives. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflicts, which claimed tens of thousands of lives, resulted in the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani lands and about 1 million people becoming refugees and displaced persons. The Azerbaijani people are deprived of a chance to see numerous historical and architectural monuments, schools, museums and libraries that have been left in occupied lands. Irrespective of this, we do not forget our cultural heritage, which is our pride and honour.
However, despite this negative impact, Azerbaijan is rapidly developing in both the economic and social fields. The experience of recent decades shows that, in a modern world, everything is closely connected with economic development. The more developed a country’s economy is, the higher the welfare of its citizens, and the higher their standard of life and living conditions. Of course, those who are not burdened with the difficulties of maintaining themselves and their families are ready to participate actively in the life of society.
It is notable that the rights of citizens secured by the constitution are reflected in various normative legal acts. Thus, according to the law on youth, the aims and principles of youth politics, alongside others, provide for the active participation of young people in the socio-political, socio-economic and cultural life of society, thus mobilising the creative potential for solving national problems.
According to the law on culture, the main principles of State policy in the Azerbaijan Republic are equality in the creation, use and distribution of cultural heritage, regardless of social and material position, nationality, race, and religious or sexual orientation.
We have to prevent all such threats through a civilised dialogue. That was the aim of the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and the International Humanitarian Forum held in Baku, which provided an opportunity to analyse most of the issues now raised in society.
Azerbaijan is becoming an important arena for the organisation of major international forums, conferences, festivals, exhibitions and competitions in the field of culture and art. Every year, the International Mugham Festival and the International Music Festival are held in Azerbaijan. The Mstislav Rostropovich Festival is held in Baku every year, in memory of one of our prominent musicians. All such events provide for the participation of more and more people in cultural life. The holding of the Eurovision song contest in Baku in May this year will also be a prominent contribution to this field.
Culture unites all people, regardless of nationality, gender, age and origin.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Next on the list is Mr Matušić, who is not here. Nor is Mr Kennedy, so I call Mr Kucheida.
Mr KUCHEIDA (France) said that he fully supported the report, and felt that culture should be available to all, like air and water. However, recent events had cast doubt on the notion of universal access. For example, while digital book sales had increased, new technology was often unaffordable for most citizens. Also, France had increased value added tax on general consumption, including cultural items. Cultural goods should be treated differently in respect of such taxes.
The economic situation had made it harder to improve citizens’ access to culture but recent examples offered hope in such circumstances. In France, museums had opened in poorer mining areas at the initiative of local authorities. In Spain, the world-famous Guggenheim Museum had opened in Bilbao, a town that had previously suffered in economic terms.
Some cultural institutions benefited from donations, but those that benefited tended to be those that needed it least. Cultural inequalities needed to be evened out and more funding made available, especially for the poorer areas.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Kucheida. I point out that all speakers have the same speaking time. The next speaker is Ms Backman.
Ms BACKMAN (Iceland) – Let me first thank the rapporteur for this timely report on the right of everyone to participate in cultural life.
I strongly agree about the importance of culture and cultural life in the development and well-being of people. It is particularly important for young people to grow up in a cultural environment and to have the opportunity to participate in forming their cultural surroundings. Children need to be raised in a positive and fertile community and to be encouraged to develop their artistic talents.
However, I feel that more attention could have been devoted in the report to the right of people with disabilities to participate in cultural life. Most European countries still have a long way to go in ensuring that disabled people have full access to cultural events and activities. A large group of people is thus prevented from full access to cultural events. These people have as much right fully to participate in cultural life as anyone else. Attitudes and prejudices towards the abilities of people with disabilities are as great an obstacle as lack of access to buildings.
Indeed, the needs of people with disabilities tend to be forgotten in the design of buildings and acoustics. In this respect, the concept “Design for All” can open up cultural life not only for people with disabilities but for such important social groups as the elderly. “Design for All” is a new approach to fashioning our human environment, and it should be promoted.
The cultural participation of people with disabilities should be supported in the same way as other cultural activities. In doing so, we will strengthen the communities and citizens of Europe and promote cultural diversity. The media need to reflect the contemporary world in all its diversity, and this also applies to the artistic creation of people with disabilities.
Thank you for your attention.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Backman, for being within the time limit. You have shown that it is possible.
The next speaker is Mr Davies, from Canada, Observer from Canada.
Mr DAVIES (Canada) – It gives me pleasure to speak about a topic that often does not receive the attention that it deserves: the role of culture in society, and the importance of youth access to culture.
We live in a time when, despite the enormous wealth and resources that may be available to promote and develop a nation’s cultural life, the benefits of culture are not equitably distributed. Although we claim to be recognising cultural life as a human right by enshrining cultural rights in international conventions that seek to promote and guarantee participation in cultural life, large segments of national populations are unable to benefit from cultural pursuits, either as participants in cultural events or as creators of culture.
The rapporteur emphasised the important link between culture and human rights. Cultural resources are essential to the exercising of other rights, such as democratic rights and rights of citizenship, and cultural rights are necessary for educational development, particularly that of our young people. Educational opportunities allow us to realise our full potential as citizens and as individuals.
The lack of access to culture, the arts and other creative pursuits may be a symptom of the broader problem of a lack of funding for our schools. Pursuits such as music, dance, visual arts and other media ensure that young people develop into well-rounded individuals who are expressive and nuanced and can use their faculties for creative problem-solving, but, sadly, arts and creative programmes tend to suffer most as a result of cuts in education funding – along with broader cuts in the arts and culture – because of the misguided perception that culture and the arts are somehow not practical or essential to our economic lives. In purely economic terms, however, cultural industries are known to contribute significantly to the economic well-being of a nation, whether we measure that contribution in terms of gross domestic product and exports or whether we consider the importance of culture to the development of our national heritage. It is estimated that the economic impact of Canada’s cultural sector amounts to some 84 billion Canadian dollars annually, which, in 2007, represented 7.4% of Canada’s GDP. It is also estimated that the cultural sector contributes approximately 1.1 million jobs to our economy.
As for the contribution of the arts and culture to our national heritage, it is widely recognised by all governments that culture has two objectives, economic and social. That has motivated nations around the globe to implement international conventions for the protection of cultural heritage. An important document in Canada is the United Nations Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. I am proud that Canada played a leading role in the wording of the convention and was one of the first nations to adopt it.
We must continue to create, promote and share culture in order to foster greater understanding and human expression. By respecting all people and all the differences between them, we can build a better world for everyone.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Davies. The next speaker is Mr Gaudi Nagy.
Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – I welcome the report, and strongly support the statements and recommendations in it.
I want to stress the importance of the existence of the right of each person to come to know his own culture, and to have access to that culture. I agree with the report that it is equally important to ensure that people have the right to become familiar with the culture of others and thus to gain a deeper understanding of them. Ensuring that people have a right to take part in cultural life, which is the main task and goal identified by the report, gives a legal basis to the flow of culture, emotions, ideas and thoughts, all of which broaden the thinking of individuals and, more importantly, help society to develop its own way of thinking.
The report refers to the importance of digital devices, which is a major preoccupation nowadays. I believe that such devices do indeed help to build connections between people, but I also believe that they cannot replace either the importance of personal communication or the organised cultural events that enable people to get to know each other, to spend time together, to share experiences and to have a chance, time and again, to re-establish centuries-old traditions in their communities. I welcome the report’s emphasis on the role of governments in providing as much free access to culture and cultural events as possible.
A positive legislative example that accords with the aim of the report is the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which was adopted by UNESCO in 2005. In that context, let me express the greatest respect for Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. However, there are also some negative examples, including the language law in one of our member States, Slovakia, which strongly contradicts the lessons of the report. It imposes fines on Hungarian minorities living in Slovakia who use their mother tongue and try to keep their original cultural roots alive. The potential sanctions are fearsome. The language law hectors the community, undermines freedom of speech and expression, and restricts the right to take part in a community-based cultural life.
Such negative examples show us how important it is to draw the attention of parliamentarians to the recommendations in the report. I fully support its adoption, and hope that it will be implemented as soon as possible.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gaudi Nagy. I see that Mr Matušić is now present. However, because he did not arrive in time, I must put him at the end of the list of speakers. Mr Jirsa is not here, so the next speaker is Mr Sudarenkov.
Mr SUDARENKOV (Russian Federation) said it was important to remember why the Council of Europe existed. One of the reasons was to increase awareness of cultural diversity. Problems stemming from economic, social, ethnic and other issues could be tackled through culture. Culture was a weapon in the struggle to combat violence and should be part of social policy.
In terms of education, inculcating culture was an end in itself and education should be based on it.
Local authorities were taking important steps in the area of culture. For example, Avignon’s approach was to spend 19% of the city budget on culture. It was important to collate such examples and to share the approaches of creative education in line with the UNESCO approach.
Others had advocated that a certain percentage of a country’s gross national product should be allocated to cultural endeavours, and he agreed with this idea. The rapporteur was right to remind the Assembly that without culture everyone would be poorer.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Sudarenkov. Next on the list is Mr Huseynov.
Mr HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Culture is a notion embodying democracy in its essence, as it belongs to everyone. Everyone has the same right to benefit from culture, and everyone has the same opportunity to create cultural examples. The wealth belonging to everyone binds everyone with the same responsibility. We are obliged to preserve this joint value and to improve the cultural atmosphere.
It is a pity that even the 20th and 21st centuries, which can be perceived as peaks in the development of the whole of humanity, witnessed the absolute destruction of precious pearls of culture, which belong not only to their founder nations but to the whole of mankind.
In my homeland of Azerbaijan in the district of Fizuli there is a natural and cultural monument called the cave of Azykh. It is one of the prime human settlements in Europe. In my homeland in the village of Boyahmadly in the district of Aghdam there are stone sculptures more than 2 000 years old, which were photographed and put into catalogues 60 or 70 years ago. In my homeland in the districts of Zangilan and Gubadly there are some plane trees in the forest that are more than 700 or 800 years old. In my homeland in the districts of Kalbajar, Lachin and Jabrayil there are graveyards and other cultural monuments dating back over the millennia.
For more than 20 years, these territories have been under Armenian occupation, and most of these unprecedented cultural monuments that I have mentioned have been destroyed. Those examples of cultural heritage are really a wealth that belongs to the whole of humankind. Such historical keepsakes have long ceased to belong to just one nation. Any threat to this kind of monument means essentially a crime against humanity. Armenia has occupied 20% of Azerbaijani territories with the aid of foreign powers, but it is not satisfied with this occupation alone. Today, attempts are being made to appropriate examples of Azerbaijani culture, particularly Azerbaijani musical folklore, including the well-known works of Azerbaijani composers.
To participate in cultural life is everyone’s right and cultural heritage belongs to everybody, which is only common sense. However, this does not provide grounds for anybody to steal the cultural wealth of other nations. Generally stealing is a misdeed. Sooner or later, all thieves stand before the law and the things they have stolen are taken back from them. Armenia will undoubtedly have to return all the things that it has stolen.
Our common culture is the best bridge between all people existing in the world. We should surely not destroy, but preserve and improve things. Then, our world will be more civilised and tomorrow will be much sunnier than today.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Huseynov. I now call Mr Pupovac.
Mr PUPOVAC (Croatia) – I would like to express my gratitude to the rapporteur for doing a great job, and my appreciation of the subject that we are debating this evening. I shall take this opportunity to share my experience of this subject in my country of Croatia, but also in the wider region of the former Yugoslavia.
We all know that the period of war is behind us and that nation states have been created. In that process, the cultural heritage of different peoples, particularly of minorities, became unpreserved, unpresented, unthought and unshared. What we in Croatia are doing is trying to reverse that process. We are trying to renew something that has been destroyed – monuments, memories or cultural heritage in general. We would like to see schools dealing with these issues, and we think that culture is something that has to be shared among all citizens.
What shocked me this summer when I travelled through Bosnia and Herzegovina with my family and friends, in all three entities – I know something about Kosovo as well, where we can see a similar situation developing – was when I realised that although we have a cultural, ethnic or religious majority, we do not have preservation of the different cultures, different heritage and different histories. We do not see this even in the names of the streets or in the monuments or in the subjects taught at school.
I call on the Council of Europe to talk about these issues, and to use this report and the team that compiled it as a moment for inspiration and mobilisation. When we discuss so many different political subjects, we should also discuss these cultural issues, particularly in respect of the region of the former Yugoslavia. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Pupovac. Mr Shershun now has the floor.
Mr SHERSHUN (Ukraine) thanked the rapporteur for an excellent and timely report. Spiritual development was essential and society thrived on ideas: only a fully rounded individual was able to cope with the vicissitudes of life. In the information society, the capacity for critical thinking was paramount and such an ability could be based only on a full understanding of all aspects of human activity, including cultural life. In the context of human rights, the role of cultural education in schools could not be underestimated and it was intrinsic to the intellectual and emotional development of children. Modern information and communication technologies played an important part in facilitating the development of new types of art. Electronic libraries were a valuable addition to society but the importance of intellectual property rights should not be forgotten and authors’ work should be protected to enable them to continue to make a living and share the products of their labour with society. He endorsed the report’s recommendation for increased co-operation between the member States of the Council of Europe, the European Union and UNESCO.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Gutu.
Ms GUTU (Republic of Moldova) was surprised that the report did not address the cultural behemoths of Italy, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. Nevertheless she had found the report both detailed and relevant. She was concerned that support for cultural education was being sidelined during the economic crisis. Each society had organisations charged with protecting cultural heritage and the Republic of Moldova was no different. The Republic of Moldova had a policy ensuring that as many citizens as possible had access to a cultural life. The relevant European and UNESCO conventions were respected in the Republic of Moldova and had been instrumental in policy-making. Students and young people had access to theatres and concert halls, as well as the 1 385 libraries in the country. However, there was a particular problem in Transnistria, where pupils were not educated in their mother tongue and the people in that region were fighting hard to change this state of affairs to meet the spiritual and material needs of the pupils. It was true that certain other ethnic minorities also wished to be taught in their mother tongues. Nevertheless, the Republic of Moldova had a strong programme to promote cultural life.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Next is Mr Assaf from Palestine, Partner for Democracy.
Mr ASSAF (Palestinian National Authority) – I thank the rapporteur for this valuable report. I entirely agree that cultural rights are among the most important of human rights. I also thank Ms Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, for her statement and for the acceptance of Palestine as a Unesco member. We hope that our membership will help us to achieve peace, independence and freedom, and will also serve to protect our culture, which played an important role in the preservation of the Palestinian nation. Education is a human right for all, but it is also an important instrument to help us build a better future.
As I am speaking as a new member – as a Partner for Democracy – please allow me to thank the Assembly for accepting the Palestinian application. Our delegation congratulates Mr Mignon on his election as President, and we wish Mr Çavuşoğlu all the best.
However, we cannot underestimate the importance of providing each and every one of our people with the opportunity to participate in cultural life. The Palestinian people have traditionally emphasised the importance of culture and education. For us, education and culture open up opportunities that enrich our perspectives and world views. We look forward to the time when our country will be independent and free, and when our culture will therefore not only enrich our citizens’ lives but will promote intercultural knowledge and understanding.
I trust that the Assembly and the Council of Europe will continue to support our people in seeking the fulfilment of our aspirations. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Ms Schuster now has the floor.
Ms SCHUSTER (Germany) noted that the number of speakers in the debate was an indication of its importance. Access to culture was a civil right, a source of identity and an important foundation for society as a whole. The citizen was both a generator and consumer of culture in society. The State had an important role in promoting culture and all tiers of government had to take responsibility for this role. Private sector support and investment was also necessary because, without this strand of creativity, society would be culturally poorer. Cultural education was a challenge for the future: young people aged 15 to 20 were singled out by the report as important targets for education, but people later in life also needed access to culture.
Culture was an instrument of international policy-making. She endorsed the words of the previous speaker, Mr Assaf, and noted the example of the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, which could not resolve international conflict but could be symbolically helpful in promoting peace in the Middle East.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Baroness Nicholson.
Baroness NICHOLSON (United Kingdom) – I thank the rapporteur for giving us the opportunity to discuss the right of everyone to participate in cultural life. I also thank her and her committee for making the inspired choice of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Bokova, who addressed the committee this afternoon and now has addressed us here in the plenary.
I have had the great privilege of working with UNESCO as a partner for almost 20 years. I have a memorandum of understanding with UNESCO. I have worked with its representatives in refugee camps with refugees, as well as with squatters, internally displaced people, and with the illiterate, the non-numerate, the dispossessed, the marginalised, the handicapped, the sick, the starving and those who are institutionalised and never seen again. UNESCO has never failed those people; instead it has come forward to help look after them. It has been eager, willing and co-operative, and courteous and sensitive to all. When we listen to the Director-General of UNESCO, we are reminded that the beginnings of UNESCO, in 1945, predate the Council of Europe. The constitution of UNESCO reminds us that if wars start in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.
Today, UNESCO promotes diversity of cultural expressions and dialogue between cultures, with a view to fostering the culture of peace. It is my experience and my belief – and, I believe, the belief of the rapporteur and her esteemed committee – that the work of UNESCO, in partnership with the Council of Europe, is needed more today than ever before. I thank colleagues for providing this precious time to focus on culture, and I urge the Council of Europe to support UNESCO more than ever.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Reimann from Switzerland.
Mr REIMANN (Switzerland) said that, although the report was useful and contained some important recommendations, it was in other respects illusory. In particular, the report did not discuss the extent to which exclusion from cultural life was actually occurring. In Switzerland, all citizens had the right to participate in culture without discrimination. The report did not satisfactorily set out where cultural discrimination was an issue and to what extent.
The report also called for continued and closer co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNESCO but did not make clear whether this was because current co-operation was unsatisfactory or at risk. The report also said little on the question of whether States should provide more resources to cultural initiatives. Access to culture was a universal right and States had a key role to play in ensuring cultural activities received financial support.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Next on the list of speakers is Ms Anikashvili from Georgia.
Ms ANIKASHVILI (Georgia) said that although the Assembly spent most of its time discussing political issues, culture was equally important. All people were entitled to participate in cultural life and to develop their own cultural heritage and values. The protection of cultural rights was a guiding principle of the Council of Europe. However, the Russian occupation of Georgia had left 5 000 Georgian citizens unable to participate in cultural life. Cultural monuments had been eradicated and the so called “restoration” programme being carried out by the occupiers was actually removing all traces of traditional Georgian heritage from those monuments which remained, for example by whitewashing walls or replacing traditional façades. A ruling of the International Court of Justice had made clear that these actions were unacceptable. The Council of Europe and UNESCO needed to take further action to safeguard Georgia’s unique cultural heritage.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The last speaker is Mr Matušić from Croatia.
Mr MATUŠIĆ (Croatia) – Thank you, Mr President. I would like to thank Ms Marland-Militello for undertaking the challenging task of producing a report on such a broad subject and for performing her tasks so excellently.
The right of everyone to take part in cultural life is one of the fundamental rights at the heart of the human rights system. Insofar as everyone differs in their potential, it is important to acknowledge that potential exists in everyone, so the right to take part in cultural life is almost, by definition, crucial to the system of human rights. Whether we are referring to 15 to 25-year-olds – protagonists of times to come – or elders, and bearing in mind that the soul has neither gender nor age, everyone has the right to express their creative potential. The key word is creativity. The capacity for a creative imagination is spread all over the human race.
It is important to stress the need to eliminate our self-imposed restraints and censorship towards our ability to take an active part in cultural life. The digital revolution favours cultural democratisation and enables everyone to participate in that diversity, to draw resources from it and to access it. At a practical level, we
need integrated policies to create networks for public and private operators in this field. We need to rethink the role of school and create induction courses to remind even teachers how to see, hear and feel. In other words, we ourselves must realise our potential to the utmost.
Multi-annual objection setting and binding contracts at all levels of the process from the local upwards can make a career in culture an economically viable option for young creators, thus reminding us that intellectual property rights are part of human rights. The North-South Centre provides for better understanding between civilisations, and, idealistically speaking, the right of everyone to take part in cultural life should provide a better understanding primarily of one’s self but consequently of everyone else as well. I see no goal more worthy of effort. Thank you for an excellent report.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. That concludes the list of speakers. I now call Ms Marland-Militello, the rapporteur, to reply. There are still four minutes left.
Ms MARLAND-MILITELLO (France) said she had been moved by the interest of members of the Assembly in cultural democratisation. Although many laws were already in place that sought to ensure access to culture, the report had aimed to show whether these laws had been implemented fully or effectively. The report had also sought to list the risks to full participation in cultural life.
It was gratifying and encouraging that so many members had spoken of their attachment to their cultural identity. Many speakers had supported their own cultural identity while also acknowledging the need for a wider framework for cultural rights. In the course of the debate, it had been noted that culture was at risk of becoming a market product to buy and sell like any other. It was important to prevent culture from becoming a commodity of this kind.
Ms Backman had raised the issue of cultural access for those with disabilities. This was important but it was also necessary to consider the impact on cultural rights of the economic crisis. Cultural democratisation had to take place within a wider framework of human rights. The novelist André Malraux had said that art was the shortest path from one human being to another. Her report sought to take one step further along this path.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Does the chairperson of the committee wish to speak? Mr Flego, you have two minutes.
Mr FLEGO (Croatia) – I shall try to be brief. Culture is different – it is specific to humankind. It can be understood as the way in which humans adapt nature to their needs, but it is also the way in which we give sense to our lives. In both meanings, culture is essential for us, collectively and individually. This is why there is no human existence without culture. This is why we – individuals, associations and institutions – have an obligation to ensure open and maximal access to culture, to consume it and to create it.
This report responds to this obligation in a valuable way. Ms Marland-Militello stresses the crucial importance of culture. She proposes to establish the conditions that would enable access to culture for everyone; everyone will have the opportunity to satisfy his or her own needs in line with his or her own tastes and preferences so that culture becomes democratised and democratic. The author specifies some obligations on the member States regarding how to ensure this access. One is the role of the education system. Schools direct the later development of the child. The access of pupils to culture, not only to consume works of art but particularly to enjoy free artistic expression, to create pieces of art of any kind, is supposed to create a need for culture. Such a need for culture becomes a need for others; it becomes a contribution to better and deeper mutual understanding, mutual respect, as well as social inclusion and cohesion. Hopefully, it contributes to a better, more democratic and peaceful world.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr Flego.
The debate is closed.
The Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media has presented a draft recommendation to which no amendments have been tabled.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 12815.
The vote is open.
The draft recommendation in Document 12815 is adopted, with 79 votes for, 0 against and 3 abstentions.
I congratulate the rapporteur.
3. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: Results
THE PRESIDENT – The results of the election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights are as follows:
Number voting: 243
Blank or spoiled ballot papers: 4
Votes cast: 239
Absolute majority required: 120
The votes were cast as follows:
Mr Pierre-Yves MONETTE (Belgium) : 27
Mr Nils MUIŽNIEKS (Latvia): 120
Mr Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands): 92
Accordingly, Mr MUIŽNIEKS is the successful candidate and is elected Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights for a term of office of six years starting on 1 April 2012. I congratulate Mr Mulžnieks and thank the other two candidates for participating.
4. Guaranteeing the authority and effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights.
THE PRESIDENT – The next item of business is the debate on the report entitled “Guaranteeing the authority and effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights” Document 12811, to be presented by Mr de Vries, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
In order to conclude the sitting by 8 p.m., we must interrupt the list of speakers at 7.55 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the votes. Is this agreed?
It is agreed.
I call Mr de Vries, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Mr de VRIES (Netherlands) – The report before us was prepared by Ms Bemelmans-Videc. After many years of outstanding service and outstanding contributions to our debates, she has left the Assembly. It is a great honour for me to present her report to the Assembly, especially because Ms Bemelmans-Videc asked me to do so, even though I am a member of a different political group.
I want to highlight a number of Ms Bemelmans-Videc’s observations during this presentation. First, the European Court cannot be, or become, a substitute for the national protection of human rights. It was always meant to play a subsidiary role, and for that reason it is imperative to improve the situation in countries where human rights are not properly implemented. This is a responsibility of governments, but also of parliamentarians. Parliaments should therefore be fully involved in scrutinising the implementation of the Interlaken process.
Secondly, we should refocus our discussion on the rising backlog of cases in the Court. This is not primarily a question of the insufficient functioning of the Court; indeed, Ms Bemelmans-Videc argues that enhancing single-judge formations could reduce the backlog in two and a half years. That backlog is caused by structural and systemic problems in mainly six States: Italy, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. According to Ms Bemelmans-Videc, these countries are not doing enough to remedy
the deficiency. Also, the Committee of Ministers is not doing enough to secure the follow-up of core decisions. According to Ms Bemelmans-Videc – I think she is perfectly right – we as parliamentarians should intensify pressure on the Committee of Ministers, and on our own governments, to put the house in order.
I turn to the third point, which I found rather illuminating. The yearly cost of hiring a judge at the European Court is higher than the annual contribution of 15 countries. This amazing fact indicates that 15 countries do not even pay for their own judge. I do not consider this acceptable.
Fourthly, if the Court finds a violation of human rights in a particular country, there should be consequences in respect of all countries if the same problem exists in their own legal systems. This point has also been stressed by Mr Costas, former President of the Court, many times.
Fifthly, we should improve the publication and dissemination of the Court’s case law. Also, the training of officials is crucial in order to have these verdicts implemented in the countries concerned.
Sixthly, if we state that human rights and democracy are essential for our countries, we should put our money where our mouth is. The urgent message of Ms Bemelmans-Videc to Council of Europe countries, the Committee of Ministers and parliamentarians is: practise what you preach. We cannot abide the paying of lip-service to our convictions about human rights and democracy. It is a matter of duty and honour to keep the European Convention on Human Rights alive in our days and for future generations.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr de Vries. You have nine minutes remaining.
In the debate, I call Mr Lecoq, from the Group of the Unified European Left. You have three minutes.
Mr LECOQ (France) congratulated the rapporteur on a highly technical and important report, and said that the European Court of Human Rights played a key role in the visibility of the Council of Europe and placing European democracy alongside national identities. It was important to subscribe to the philosophical principles of Habermas and to be a part of the new constitutional order. The new constitutional order was universal in scope and required debate in national parliaments. It was important to keep the 800 million citizens involved.
The reform was reminiscent of Montesquieu in its form. In order to achieve the reform, it would be necessary to give the European Court of Human Rights the publicity it deserved and to help it to emerge from the obscurity of technical details.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Franken on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr FRANKEN (Netherlands) – Guaranteeing the authority and effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights is the theme of this discussion. This positive title signals that authority and effectiveness are not a broadly accepted certainty. Reading the newspapers, we have to confess that there is a real criticism of the European Court of Human Rights, the body with the ultimate and special task of maintaining the authority and effectiveness of the European Convention – the basis of rights for every European citizen.
The criticisms we heard are twofold. First, there is a big backlog in the handling of cases, resulting in long waiting times before a decision is made. Secondly, there is a strict material reproach of the substance of the Court’s decisions. Governments consider some decisions to be beyond the border of its competence because they reduce the margin of appreciation that States have for their own interpretation of the articles of the Convention.
In response to the first reproach, I say yes: the backlog is far too great and the waiting times are generally too long. How has that come about? Many people, including members of the Assembly, noticed years ago that the backlog was growing, and measures were proposed to counter that, but it was many years before the essential Protocol No. 14 was adopted. The Court is not guilty; the Convention was ineffective, and member States were very slow to repair its deficiencies.
We cannot, at a general level, agree with the second criticism, that the Court is assuming too wide a working field and limiting the margin of appreciation for individual States to an excessive extent. The challenge for us parliamentarians will be to end that situation if the criticism is justified, or to prevent it if it is not.
In accordance with the excellent report from Ms Bemelmans-Videc, let me specify four actions that are necessary. First, national governments must implement the Court’s judgments rapidly and effectively, and accept its interpretative authority. Secondly, the Assembly must scrutinise its resolutions and recommendations, and ensure that they accord with the human rights formulated in the Convention. Thirdly, national parliaments must ensure that their rules and statutes are strictly in line with the Convention’s text. Fourthly, national parliaments must give the Court a realistic chance to maintain its authority and quality. Each member State must be obliged to pay at least the cost of the membership of the national judge in the Court.
My conclusion is that if there is a problem with the functioning of the Court, we parliamentarians have only ourselves to blame.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Franken. The next speaker is Ms Strik, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Ms STRIK (Netherlands) – On behalf of the social democrats, I wish to express my support for this excellent report and for the work of Ms Bemelmans-Videc and Mr de Vries.
The European Convention on Human Rights is the most important instrument of the Council of Europe, not least because we have the European Court of Human Rights, which is able to reinforce compliance by member States with the rights enshrined in the Convention. The Court is accessible to all our citizens and residents, and we should cherish that valuable right. The supranational jurisdiction of the Court and its competencies are unique in the world. The authority and effectiveness of the Convention depend on a Court that has authority itself, and we are responsible for protecting that authority.
The problems encountered by the Court are recognised by all parties. No one denies that its work load is unacceptably heavy. There is currently a backlog of 150 000 cases awaiting responses. Long waiting periods are disastrous for our citizens who are waiting for the position in regard to their complaints to be clarified, and may also serve as an incentive to the lodging of new complaints because a negative reply has not been given in similar cases. The most important effect, however, is the delaying of cases that deserve priority. When human rights are at stake, sometimes for a large number of people, member States need to know as soon as possible whether they must adjust their policies.
The problem has been identified; we now need to discuss possible solutions. The number of judgments does not say as much about the Court itself as about the failure of the policies and legislation of our member States to comply with the Convention. Notwithstanding judgments, continual violations have led to a current backlog of about 40 000 repetitive cases. That means that member States have refused to comply with earlier judgments. They have a responsibility to do so, but the Committee of Ministers should play a stronger role by holding its members responsible for complying with judgments. If governments maintain friendly relations with other governments in order to avoid being criticised themselves, the Committee of Ministers is not fulfilling its role of monitoring the case law of the Court. Our ministers should be braver in that regard. However, we too have a role, as members of national parliaments, in guaranteeing the effectiveness and authority of the Convention. If a judgment affects a country and its policy, a national parliament should urge the government of that country to ensure that the judgment is applied and that, if necessary, national legislation is adjusted to accord with the case law. Criticising a judgment implicitly undermines the authority of both the Convention and the Court.
It must be said that the Court has made changes in order to reduce the backlog as soon as possible. Protocol No. 14 is being implemented, and the single judges system seems to be effective. Those developments deserve our support, but they can be effective only if we follow up the judgments of the Court. It should be possible to enforce the rule of law in the Council of Europe without affecting human rights. Too often, I hear pleas for a reduction in the Court’s jurisdiction and the granting of more national discretion to member States. I do not know whether those who express such criticisms realise what is at stake. If we restrict the competence of the Court, we will let down all the defenders of human rights in countries where the rule of law is violated systematically. If we want to uphold human rights at European level and uphold the credibility of the Court, we should set the best example ourselves.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Strik.
The next speaker is Mr Binley, who will speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr BINLEY (United Kingdom) – I remind the Assembly that there is a problem of legitimacy which needs to be addressed, and which the report studiously ignores. That serves only to make the Court more remote and detached, and to deprive it of the connection with the people that is so vital.
My constituents have voiced three concerns. They naturally consider the backlog to be farcical and unsustainable. They think that the Court has lost its focus regarding fundamental human rights, and they are concerned about a plethora of judgments that subject the Court to popular ridicule. The report fails to explain why the backlog has increased more than sixfold over the last 10 years. It does not consider a more robust filter mechanism, although one was introduced which is not working, and it does not consider whether cases that have been timed out should be dropped from the list. More importantly, it does not ask whether we should restrain the judicial activism which is referred to throughout it.
However, most people in my town of Northampton in the midlands of England are less concerned about the backlog than about the Court’s increasingly bizarre judgments. They wonder whom the Court protects. Last week, it plumbed new depths when it sided with a dangerous terrorist against his extradition to face justice. Foreign criminals have evaded deportation at the end of their sentences because it might interfere with their right to family life, but the public need protection from dangerous criminals and justice needs to be done. They want to know where the balance is.
Passing this motion would further extend the scope to interpret legislation. Some have said that elected parliaments have stood in the way of the Court’s judgments. The example of prisoner voting rights comes to mind. Perhaps the report should have asked whether the Court should return to the principles that underpin fundamental human rights as agreed in the first protocol in 1952.
In a survey last year, two thirds of people in Britain agreed that ultimate authority on human rights should rest with the Supreme Court in London, with only one in five stating that it should rest in Strasbourg. A senior British law lord makes the case well, as he concludes, “in the last few years, human rights have become…a byword for foolish decisions by courts and administrators”.
Perhaps the Court should stop trying to usurp democracy, and limit its ambitions; otherwise, its very legitimacy will be brought into question. I recognise that that is not a popular view here, but this Assembly needs to recognise that the rule of law can operate only with the assent of the people.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Binley. I now call Mr Dijkhoff, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Mr DIJKHOFF (Netherlands) – I want to thank the rapporteur, Ms Bemelmans-Videc, for her well written report on the effectiveness of the European Convention and of the European Court of Human Rights. Criticisms are made of the Court’s work. The validity of those criticisms varies, but we should not fear criticism, which is healthy. The Court is strong; it can take it.
The report points out clearly that the Court is one of the pillars protecting human rights – but not the only one. The report reminds us that it was never intended to be the primary caretaker of human rights, as the Court is subsidiary to the responsibilities of member States themselves. A member State cannot outsource protection of human rights to the Court. To illustrate my point, the lack of systems of protection at the national level in six countries constitutes 70% of what lies waiting in the Court’s inbox – and what lies waiting is not just a few cases of backlog; it is a mountain of cases, which threatens to crush the Court beneath its weight.
Member States like to point to their formal “margin of appreciation”, but they should not appreciate only that margin, as they should also carry out their primary responsibilities in respecting human rights. The first is to make sure that violations of human rights do not happen. That is plain and simple. Secondly, they should have an effective system of legal remedy for cases where violations have taken place.
Politicians in member States have other responsibilities in this area, too. The Committee of Ministers should be more active in offering guidelines when interpreting and modernising the Convention and its protocols – instead of leaving all the work for the Court. We parliamentarians have the responsibility to discuss human rights in our national parliaments. In adopting new laws, we should pay more attention to conformity with human rights. Again, that question should not be left only for the Court after the law has entered into force.
We politicians have an added responsibility when it comes to the scope of human rights. When we try to play down their importance, we damage them. When we try to expand them to fit our own political desires, we undermine them. We should refrain from both. Precisely because the Convention is so valuable, we should protect its Court to keep it effective.
To conclude, what is needed most is more respect for individual rights and freedoms for all. The best remedy for the problem of having too many cases before the Court is life without human rights violations. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Dijkhoff. I now call Mr Salles.
(Ms Woldseth, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Kox.)
Mr SALLES (France) paid tribute to an excellent report and agreed with its recommendations. Filtering methods were important but he thought that this was a technical measure. There would be no need for filtering once the underlying issues were dealt with.
Respect for the principle of res interpretata meant abandoning national legal sovereignty and bringing national legislation into line with the interpretation of the Court. For example, the Court had found the decision of a military tribunal in Turkey in relation to custody not to be in accordance with the Convention; and, in France, legislation was introduced when the Court found an infringement of the Convention in a civil case. However, full effect could not be given to the principle of res interpretata without additional resources and further education. Inevitably, the central issue was the compatibility of two separate legal systems.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Salles. I now call Mr Michel.
Mr MICHEL (France) suggested that members might feel a little depressed following the presentation of the report. The proposal to organise a conference was a modest step when compared with the grand scale of the problem. He did, however, support the report’s proposals. The Court required the support of the Assembly in order to guarantee its effectiveness and preserve its future.
The position of the United Kingdom was of concern. The United Kingdom was, after all, one of the first nations to ratify the Convention, yet it was now threatening to withdraw from the full effects of the Court’s decisions. This position was being echoed in other member States. The adoption of a separate charter especially for the United Kingdom would represent a crisis for the Court. It was of particular concern because the Court’s judgments were being contested not only in countries with a long democratic tradition like the United Kingdom, but in other countries. The role of national parliaments needed to be strengthened, as no solution could be reached without them. The conflict between the Court and member States needed to be overcome in order to give effect to the Court’s judgments.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Michel. I call Sir Roger Gale.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – It grieves me to have to start by saying that I believe that this report is an opportunity missed. I entirely agree with the comments of my colleague and parliamentary friend, Mr Binley. I also endorse the comments made by Mr Dijkhoff: he rightly said that responsibility for the enforcement of the Convention cannot rest with the Court of Human Rights. It is the responsibility of the Committee of Ministers and of this Parliamentary Assembly. We must remember that.
I say all of this because I believe that far too many of the signatories to the Convention on human rights are in breach of that Convention. I said so yesterday, I am saying it again now, and I will go on saying it until the Assembly does something about it.
The fundamental right is the right to freedom. Mr Michel, who has just spoken, criticised the United Kingdom. He needs, perhaps, to be reminded that in France there are prisoners who are held for far too long without trial. That is a clear breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, and we should act upon it.
I will conclude right now by simply saying this: I believe this is the most serious issue facing the Council of Europe, and the Monitoring Committee should look at it – not tomorrow, but immediately.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Sir Roger. The next speaker is Mr Bockel.
Mr BOCKEL (France) found it paradoxical that human rights had never been better secured, yet the European Court of Human Rights Court had never been more under attack. Some of the criticisms of the Court were not supported by the facts. The priority had to be enhancement of the protection of the citizen. In 2010, he had represented France at the Interlaken Conference where he had proposed ending repetitive petitions and proposed improvements for the enforcement of the Court’s judgments. A minority of judgments posed a serious problem in terms of enforcement. The Court had been asked to make its case law more predictable so that national parliaments could legislate more effectively with the jurisprudence of the Court in mind. The report was right to emphasis the need for all stakeholders to take part in the debate.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Bockel. I call Mr Kennedy. He is not present. Instead I call Mr Corlăţean. He is not present either. I call Ms Grosskost.
Ms GROSSKOST (France) said the subject might be technical, but it was also the most important of the current part-session of the Assembly. The European Court of Human Rights was a flagship institution and the report did not shrink in the face of substantial challenges. National parliaments had a role in assuring the effectiveness of the Convention system and it was regrettable that the Assembly had not been part of the Interlaken process. The Assembly was present at the establishment of the Court and formed the vital link back to the national parliaments of member States. The Assembly therefore needed to be involved in the discussions about reform of the Court; this would make sense when the role of national parliaments in keeping international order was considered. The principle of subsidiarity meant that the Court would only step in when member States had failed to comply with their Convention obligations. It was a Court of last instance. National parliaments needed to be involved in reforms at an early stage and it would possibly prove necessary to reform national legal systems in order to promote legal co-operation.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Blondin.
Ms BLONDIN (France) said that the system for protecting human rights was at a crossroads: it was under attack, especially with respect to the speed of its proceedings. It was in urgent need of reform. The enforcement of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms had not produced the desired result of freeing up the Court. Nevertheless, the mechanism for the protection of human rights was more important than ever, particularly in the face of rising popularism. It would be sad to lose such an important tool for freedom, a tool which had been created as a response to totalitarianism in Europe.
It was the responsibility of member States to guarantee that Convention rights were upheld. As Jean-Paul Costa, the President of the Court, had said, only in cases where the national authorities had failed should the Court intervene. The Court should intervene only in relation to the most severe violations. Enforcement of the Court’s decisions needed to be better monitored. She was disappointed that the report did not insist on more training for lawyers, judges and other relevant individuals. It was essential to guarantee the independence of the justice system so that citizens could see that their rights would be respected.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. I call Mr Gross.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – Dear colleagues, when I listened this morning to the British Minister for Europe praising the history of our institutions, including the Court and the Council of Europe, I wondered what he would have said had we confronted him with the fact that today a majority of our governments and parliaments would create neither such a court nor such a citizens’ power over governments in order to guarantee, through the Court, respect for the European Convention on Human Rights and human rights in general. This shows our deficit. It is a paradox of our times. Every reality shows that we need more transnational co-operation. In that respect, Mr Lecoq mentioned the philosophy of Mr Habermas.
The transnationalisation of democracy and the protection of human rights show how courageous people were in the 1940s when they set up the Court. Today, however, we do not support it properly. We do not do all that we could to improve it; instead, we have this renationalisation tendency – not only in Britain but in Switzerland, I should say. We have not explained to our citizens why the Convention and the Court are necessary or why they have to be strengthened, which is why it is marvellous that Ms Bemelmans-Videc has produced this report. We have to take more seriously what she says about it being our duty to introduce at home more laws that respect the Convention and the liberties and freedoms of our citizens.
If we, together with our governments, can do that better, our citizens will not have to go to Strasbourg. Today, for the citizens of many – 10, 12, 13 – countries of our Organisation, it is their last hope, because they do not think that their freedoms and liberties are protected at home. That is the problem. In order to get the necessary majorities at home, perhaps we have to explain better to our citizens that this is not a foreign court. In Switzerland, they are always called “foreign judges”, but it is “our Court” – it is a part of our own courts. Perhaps we need more money at home to explain that to our citizens.
We also have to explain to our governments and our Committee of Ministers that they have to help us to do this job better. It is our duty to improve those laws at home that are not adequate. The report is a timely appeal that we should have taken seriously before. We did not do that, but we have to now.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gross. I call Mr Santini.
Mr SANTINI (Italy) noted that this report had been in preparation for five years. It had been commissioned in response to a perceived existential threat to the Court. It was obvious that this threat had not been desperately serious as the Court had not died a natural death in the course of the last five years.
The report dealt not only with problems regarding the links between the Court and individual countries but with the budgetary crisis facing the Council of Europe. The report made some interesting points on potential reforms to Court processes. The Court was highly respected for its opinions but member States did not always accept its judgments as binding. There was a risk of over-reliance by the Court on the principle of subsidiarity, as seen by the number of cases ruled inadmissible by the Court. In addition, the excessive length of proceedings in the Court had led to an over-bureaucratic image. In part, these issues could be addressed by increasing the contributions to the Court’s budget from member States and by encouraging national parliaments to take action to ease pressure on the Court. If the Court were to survive, it would be wise to emulate the late Antonio Cassese, a leading figure in international law, who had always taken a very pragmatic approach, never shrinking from challenging established systems and working methods.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Santini. I call Mr Huseynov.
Mr HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Dear colleagues, the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights are almost the same age: the Council of Europe is about to complete its 63rd year, while the Convention will reach its 60th anniversary next year. Those six decades have witnessed the most significant changes in the establishment of democracy and human rights in both European and global life. That the Convention is among the most effective legal mechanisms in the world is a fact proved by life.
A sorrowful aphorism says that the death of one person is a tragedy, but the death of 1 000 people is statistics. If we apply that to other areas, we can say that if the violation of the rights of one person or several people is a misdeed that should be addressed immediately, the continuous and regular violation, over several years, of the rights of 1 million people under the Convention is merely statistics. It is necessary to address these statistics from time to time, and not to take concrete steps too hastily.
I say that with some irony. That we have witnessed such an undesirable reality, which has taken place systematically for 20 years, is ironic: some 20% of Azerbaijani territory has been occupied by Armenia and the powers patronising it, and 1 million of our people have been turned into refugees and internally displaced persons. Over the past 12 years, while seeking redress for these continuously violated rights, Azerbaijan has had to listen to words instead of seeing genuine outcomes from its membership of the Council of Europe, the Court and its adherence to the Convention – that does not even take account of previous periods.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group and the Council of Europe have continuously debated the matter in an effort to solve the conflict, as well as taking those measures that are within their powers. Nonetheless, developments have produced neither serious progress nor the hope or belief that this process might yield desirable results in the near future.
Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs, whose elemental human rights have been harassed and who lost their calmness, health, opportunity to live as a human, housing, property which they saved up for over the years, have also appealed to the European Court of Human Rights as an ultimate instance of hope. Their appeal is based purely on the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Court of Human Rights is anxious about several countries which delay the implementation of its decisions. Naturally, we share that anxiety and consider that such situations which harm common work should be handled without delay. However, it is a more significant problem that “an issue on addressing firstly the violation of the most human rights” which is considered to be a priority policy of the
Court, should indeed stand in the first row. If it is done in such a way, the real hope for yielding considerable outcomes towards restoring the violated rights of 1 million Azerbaijanis who have been turned to refugees and IDPs by Armenia will increase. We cannot allow millions of human beings to be disappointed.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Huseynov. I next call Mr Frunda.
Mr FRUNDA (Romania) – I will be saying nothing new if I say that in the last 10 to 15 years the Council of Europe has lost its importance. We are not as credible as we were 10 years ago. During this special crisis, politicians generally, national parliaments and sometimes the national judiciary have seemed incredible to people. Only one institution is credible, and that is the Strasbourg Court. It is credible because professional judges do their job well. It is credible because when people lose their last hope in their national judiciary, they have a new hope in Strasbourg, and because the Strasbourg Court has remedies regarding the international judiciary.
MPs have to do five things to maintain and increase the importance of the Court. Before saying what those are, I would like to thank and congratulate Ms Bemelmans-Videc, even if she is not here. She was my colleague for about 10 years and I would like to thank her for all she did in that period and especially for this report. I would be happy if she were here.
Of the five things that we should do, the first is to strengthen and enhance the authenticity of the Court. Secondly, we should improve the effectiveness of domestic remedies of member States with major structural problems. I will not name any of the countries, but they are all countries that have a lot to do in this field.
Thirdly, there should be rapid and effective implementation of the jurisdiction of the Court. We know that there are some countries which for years have not implemented the decisions of the Court or have implemented them only partially. Fourthly, we should apply the locus of the Court in the national judiciaries. They are bridges between national courts and the European Court. By using checks and balances, national parliaments can oblige the courts to apply this locus and we should increase the role of national parliaments by discussing the report of the national judiciary every year. Fifthly, but not least, we should assure the Court’s financial basis so that it can work better than it has done. If we do those things, the Court will be the most effective body in Europe for 800 million people.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Frunda. I next call Ms Karamanli.
Ms KARAMANLI (France) noted that the Court guaranteed all signatories to the European Convention for Human Rights the benefit of judicial supervision of those rights. In return, signatory States had to accept the unique role of the Court, in particular the fact that it was open to individuals and played the role of an international watchdog.
The international human rights situation was going through a period of great change. Many States were undertaking a significant quantitative and qualitative extension of human rights. Often, these rights had been formulated outside the countries which were now obliged to respect them and they inevitably relied on the Court to support these rights.
The Court also had to undertake a difficult balancing act when it came to respecting the legal traditions of individual member States. For example, the French system regarding access to lawyers remained inconsistent with European rules in spite of recent reform. It was likely that this inconsistency would result in additional applications to the European Court of Human Rights. However, it was right that individual nations retained ultimate control of their legal systems.
The European Court of Human Rights needed to be given more resources but in all matters it was important to remember that law should always be a matter of justice not bureaucracy.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Karamanli. I next call Mr Aivaliotis
Mr AIVALIOTIS (Greece) was supportive of the Court but insisted that action should be taken to address the problems that it was facing. He had been a member of the European Parliament and had learned that not all European institutions were as effective as they could be.
The Court had received many applications from Italy and an even larger number from Turkey. The large number of applications from Turkey could be attributed to the failure of the Turkish regime to recognise the rights of its Kurdish minority and its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. Turkey had closed certain political institutions and had faced international condemnation when it violated the property of Greeks living in Turkey and Cyprus. This was but one example of the way the attitude of an individual State could differ greatly from the approach of the Court.
There was also potential for many new applications from Albania and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” – where 100 000 Greeks lived in Skopje alone – and it was vital for the Council of Europe to take further action in these areas.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Zimmermann.
Ms ZIMMERMANN (France) thanked the President and the rapporteur and noted that the report had raised many issues. For example, 90% of appeals that were lodged at the European Court of Human Rights were ill-founded, but the Court had to give a judgment in all cases. Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which allowed a single judge to reject plainly inadmissible application, was already bearing fruit and should help address the backlog, but there remained the need for an improved filtering system. There was also a continuing need for swift justice. The filtering processes of the French Conseil d’Etat would be a good model for the European Court of Human Rights to emulate.
The budget of the European Court of Human Rights was also an important issue. Member States needed to ensure that funding was increased to an appropriate level.
In conclusion, it was important to increase the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Shershun.
Mr SHERSHUN (Ukraine) said that it was particularly topical for the Assembly to consider the European Court of Human Rights. It was an issue that had been discussed for many years, and the longer it took to find a resolution to the Court’s problems, the greater the problems would become.
There were systemic problems in member States that hindered the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights. These included the non-implementation of judicial decisions. The Interlaken and Izmir Conferences had helped, but there remained issues about how member States acted.
National parliaments should have an enhanced role in order to prevent new human rights issues arising. For example, in Ukraine while there had been a number of cases that had gone to the European Court of Human Rights, the country was taking positive steps to implement the European Convention of Human Rights. These steps included ensuring access to a solicitor, and measures relating to extradition, as well as establishing a commission for the prevention of torture.
He hoped that the resolution would be implemented in Ukraine and elsewhere and that human rights violations would be reduced.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Biedroń.
Mr BIEDROŃ (Poland) – I thank Ms Bemelmans-Videc for her excellent report, which comes just in time, given that there is still a backlog in the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg Court remains the only hope for many victims of human rights violations.
Politicians who undermine the authority of the Court should remember that, indirectly and in the longer term, they deprive victims of human rights violations of any hope of justice. After precedents such as the United Kingdom example, it is much easier for countries that are well-known human rights violators to refuse to comply with Court judgments. Therefore, it is the role of this body to do whatever is possible to strengthen the Strasbourg mechanism and the role of the Court.
It is obvious that the Court suffers from a backlog of cases, but we should not forget that it is the primary obligation of member States to comply with Strasbourg standards. I come from a country that has different practices in this regard. On the one hand, some judgments were implemented properly. Some Polish cases offer an example for the whole of Europe, such as Kudła v. Poland, which led to the introduction of the length of proceedings remedy. That example was then followed by other States. On the
other hand, there are some cases that are not treated with due respect. For example, I am one of the victims in the case of Bączkowski and others v. Poland, which concerned the prohibition of Gay Pride in Warsaw in June 2005. Certain procedural aspects were involved in this case, which until now has not been implemented in Poland. Most importantly, the Bączkowski case was not implemented in other States.
There are still serious violations of the freedom of assembly in other countries, such as Russia and the Republic of Moldova, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people cannot enjoy the right to organise peaceful assembly. If member States of the Council of Europe treated seriously the res interpretata effect of judgments, such things would never happen.
The report underlines the fact that the Court’s budget is not sufficient to cover its activities. The Strasbourg Court’s budget is nearly six times smaller than that of the European Court of Justice. Effective political efforts should be made to increase its financing, and financial crises should be no excuse. Reforms such as those proposed in the Interlaken and Izmir Declarations will not make sense if we do not secure longer-term stable financing for the Court.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Biedroń. The next speaker is Mr Di Nino, Observer from Canada.
Mr DI NINO (Canada) – I congratulate the rapporteur. Well done!
I am grateful for the opportunity to present an observer’s point of view on a matter that is fundamentally important not only to the Council of Europe but to the world. I now wish to present a different view. Although the issues raised by the rapporteur may be considered to be internal to the member States of the Council of Europe, we should remind ourselves that the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms exert great influence beyond the borders of Europe.
The Court has an excellent global reputation as an institution that has rendered well reasoned and respected judgments. Its decisions have served to guide the courts in many countries, including Canada’s Supreme Court, particularly in the interpretation and application of our own charter of rights and freedoms. In young countries such as Canada, courts often seek the reasoned opinions of courts such as the European Court of Human Rights for guidance when grappling with the scope and interpretation of fundamental rights. A survey of judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada revealed that the Strasbourg Court’s judgments had been considered and referred to and that, in some cases, its reasoning had been adopted. Our Supreme Court has relied on its judgments on cases dealing with a broad range of rights and freedoms, including religious freedom, freedom of the press, access to justice and to the courts, the right to life, liberty and security of the person, the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention or corporal punishment and the rights of the child, to name but a few.
It should also be emphasised that the Court’s influence extends beyond its carefully crafted jurisprudence. It has clearly also served to instil and reinforce the values of democracy and the rule of law in the European Union and in Europe’s neighbouring regions, which has proved to be of infinite value to European States that have been working diligently to establish democratic institutions that value human rights after decades of oppression. The fact that the Council of Europe now numbers 47 member States is testimony to that.
I urge the Assembly to support the measures proposed by the rapporteur, especially her urging of the Committee of Ministers that their member States enact legislation or, by other appropriate means, ensure that the authority and judgments of the Court are respected and reinforced. In particular, the recommendation that the Assembly should assume a greater role in scrutinising the effort of member States to implement reforms agreed to at the Interlaken and Izmir Conferences should be supported.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Di Nino.
I see that Mr Rzayev is not here, nor is Baroness Nicholson. I therefore call the final speaker on the list, Mr Sabella, from Palestine, our Partner for Democracy
Mr SABELLA (Palestine National Authority) – In my humble opinion, the two topics discussed this afternoon, cultural life and the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights, are intricately linked. The more cultural openness and access to different kinds of culture there is, the less likely it is that cases of human rights infractions will reach the European Court of Human Rights, and that will ease its backlog. It is also imperative for all our national parliaments not only to ensure that draft laws are compatible with the requirements of the Convention, but to insist on legislation that will make access to culture an essential obligation for governments, with no discrimination. However, compliance with the Court’s judgments is only one side of the coin. The other side is preventative: the need to extend cultural possibilities to all citizens, irrespective of background or characteristics.
We in Palestine look forward to the time when we shall be a free and independent nation State, and to the end of occupation with its inevitable human rights infractions. Our aspiration is for a cultural policy that will be in keeping with the development of various cultural possibilities for all our citizens. We in Palestine can learn from the experience of Europe, with all its complexities, of issues relating to culture and human rights as we begin to build up and promote our cultural institutions and, eventually, to live freely and lead normal and peaceful lives in our region. We continue to depend on the Council of Europe and your august Assembly for the fulfilment of that aspiration.
THE PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of speakers. Does anyone who is not on the speakers’ list wish to speak? That is not the case.
I call Mr de Vries, the rapporteur, to reply. You have nine minutes remaining.
Mr DE VRIES (Netherlands) – That is unfortunate, because I was very inspired by all the speeches that I heard today. It was great to hear from the observer from Canada, who demonstrated to us what a wonderful position we are in and how envious many others in the world are of our creation of the Convention and the Court that serve us so well. I think that some of our British colleagues who are sceptical about the Court should go home and explain that to their electorates. I have never experienced any difficulty in explaining difficult concepts when that has been necessary. It is a question of conviction, and I am convinced that fundamental and universal human rights are critical to the well-being of our societies now and, indeed, for ever.
We have heard from Great Britain in more general terms – not in the strong terms in which its representatives have expressed themselves today – criticisms of the European Court of Human Rights. There was mention of a political override. Fortunately, however, the Minister for Europe told the Assembly today that there would be no political overriding of judicial decisions, and no steering of the actions of the judges in Strasbourg. That was comforting to an extent. If politicians dictate what judges must do, we shall be back in the Middle Ages, and perhaps worse.
Notwithstanding some fundamental criticisms and virtual denials of the usefulness of the Court, nearly all the speakers shared my admiration for Ms Bemelmans-Videc. Let us tell those who do not know her that she is a modest woman, extremely intelligent, who expresses her convictions in a soft voice. She has done a great deal of work in the Assembly, which has served us all very well in the past year. It is not for me to become emotional about a Christian Democrat, but if you tempt me, I shall be willing to do so.
Ms Bemelmans-Videc has stressed a simple point. She says that we should take note of what can be done and then we should do it. If we see someone not doing what they should be doing, then we should urge or force them to do it. That is a very simple remedy that applies when we really know what is going on.
I think parliamentarians should be far more involved in how the Committee of Ministers deals with respective countries, and governments of countries should be far more open with their parliamentarians about how they deal with the admonitions of the Strasbourg Court. With that, we have a basis for discussion and we have a basis for action. What Ms Bemelmans-Videc says is that countries are responsible first and foremost for what should be done in this field, but we are also present as parliamentarians and we share that responsibility.
Those who complain about cases should look for action. It is not particularly useful to complain here in this Chamber; there are always ways of addressing complaints. Sometimes there are good explanations for why a particular case has not received the attention that some speakers believe it merits. We are parliamentarians; it is also up to us to talk to the Committee of Ministers and to ask it to be responsive and not to respond in a manner of diplomatic politeness or non-intervention. It is for us to speak to those countries that do not implement the Court’s decisions.
British colleagues have said that there is an enormous backlog of cases and that their electorates do not understand it. I live in Holland: if the Rhine doubles its flow of water, we will all be swamped in the North Sea. The problem is caused when countries do not resolve these issues themselves, and it then becomes a problem for the Court. About 70% of cases could be dealt with easily, but they should be dealt with at home. That explains why Ms Bemelmans-Videc’s call is so urgent, so to the point and so simple; we can all remember it and bring it home. Then, if we hear or see something that is not befitting, we should talk to our governments, we should ask questions and we should ensure that we get regular reports on what goes on and on what the government is doing. The same applies if it is not implementing what it should be implementing from the Strasbourg Court’s point of view.
It is more or less like a mirror. Andreas Gross may not have used the word, but what Ms Bemelmans-Videc shows us is indeed a mirror: do not look at others and blame others; do what your own responsibility tells you. It took some courage this afternoon to talk about the new steps to promote the Interlaken process, although I do not think that they will be quite as spectacular as some of us appear to have thought on the basis of the criticism of the British Government in recent months. It sounded more like a trodden path, but it is nevertheless possible to walk on a trodden path and to get further along it to solve some of the imminent problems.
I was encouraged by the view that the Committee of Ministers should be more open about what it does with respect to individual countries. This is the only way. If we keep on saving our faces, being nice and speaking only in general terms, nothing will ever happen. It is wonderful to know that in the Committee of Ministers, under the British Chairmanship, countries will be called to attention if they do not do what they should be doing.
I cannot go into individual cases. With my students, I tend to devote about an hour for every case. That would take too long today, but all the cases merit attention. I think that the full discussion that we have – whether or not it be critical or supportive – is what the Court needs. The Court should not be too sensitive about criticism; judges and judgments are not beyond criticism. We know about the limits of politeness; someone referred to Montesquieu, and with a little respect for him, we can have a good exchange of views about the product of the Court and about our national justice systems. If justice is something that lives with us, we have to be able to talk about it, and that applies also when it is rendered by a judge. If we can find good words and have these discussions, we will promote our systems. We will be able to repeat after Mr Di Nino that we can be proud of a system that is capable of addressing criticism.
THE PRESIDENT – I call Lord Tomlinson on a point of order.
Lord TOMLINSON (United Kingdom) – May I say to my comrade, Klaas de Vries, that when he talks about British colleagues, he should make it quite clear that he is talking about some British colleagues? Others share his views.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Does the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights wish to speak?
Mr CHOPE (United Kingdom) – Following on from that last interjection, may I say that I think all British colleagues of whatever political party could agree with Mr de Vries that the Court and its judgments cannot and should not be above criticism? The point that my friend, Brian Binley, was making was that if the Court issues judgments that are seen by the citizens of member States to be beyond comprehension or common sense, the Court itself through those judgments undermines its own authority and the citizens of the countries where those judgments are executed are likely to defy them. I think everybody is in agreement with Mr de Vries about that.
In concluding on behalf of the committee, I would like to thank Mr de Vries for taking up the responsibility of presenting Ms Bemelmans-Videc’s report. I would also like to thank everyone for participating in what has been a useful debate. An enormous amount of collective wisdom has come from the speakers, including from people who participated directly in the Interlaken process and people who have been judges. This debate provides what I think will be a useful backdrop to what the United Kingdom Prime Minister will say in his address to the Assembly tomorrow afternoon.
Many important points were raised in the debate. My final point is that costs are particularly important. One point that Ms Bemelmans-Videc makes in her report is that some of the countries that are responsible for the largest number of cases can pass on the responsibility for them to the Court – essentially to the financial contributors to the Council of Europe – almost with impunity. I think that has to be addressed. One way countries deal with this is by saying that if a government is unsuccessful in litigation, it should make a contribution towards the cost of the judgments. Perhaps that is something that we should look at in the future.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr de Vries.
Mr de VRIES (Netherlands) – I was addressed by two British colleagues consecutively after I had given my answer. Let me say that I distinguished very clearly between their opinions. I would certainly not suggest that there was just one kind of British politics. Mr Chope as Chairman of the committee took the liberty of presenting his own point of view, to which he is of course entitled. I think that parliamentarians generally should make a great effort to try to understand and to explain what is happening. I saw a lack in that respect in some parts of the discussion, although I was comforted by the words of the British minister who had a totally different tone from what I am used to. I think I should say that. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. There is a little passion in the Chamber at the end of the day, which is nice, but I now close the debate.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution and a draft recommendation. No amendments have been tabled.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 12811.
The vote is open.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 12811.
The vote is open.
5. Date, time and agenda of the next sitting
THE PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the agenda which was agreed yesterday.
The sitting is closed.
The sitting was closed at 7.40 p.m.
Tuesday 24 January 2012 pm
1. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
2. The right of everyone to take part in cultural life
Presentation by Ms Marland-Militello of report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, Doc. 12815
Statement from Ms Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Mr Hancock (United Kingdom)
Ms O’Sullivan (Ireland)
Ms Kovács (Serbia)
Ms Karamanli (France)
Mr Heald (United Kingdom)
Mr Legendre (France)
Ms Blondin (France)
Mr Aivaliotis (Greece)
Mr Rouquet (France)
Mr Schneider (France)
Mr Marquet (Monaco)
Ms Schou (Norway)
Mr Frécon (France)
Ms Gafarova (Azerbaijan)
Ms Christoffersen (Norway)
Ms Zohrabyan (Armenia)
Mr Szabó (Hungary)
Mr Toshev (Bulgaria)
Ms Fataliyeva (Azerbaijan)
Mr Kucheida (France)
Ms Backman (Iceland)
Mr Davies (Observer from Canada)
Mr Gaudi Nagy (Hungary)
Mr Sudarenkov (Russian Federation)
Mr Huseynov (Azerbaijan)
Mr Pupovac (Croatia)
Mr Shershun (Ukraine)
Ms Gutu (Republic of Moldova)
Mr Assaf (Palestinian National Authority)
Ms Schuster (Germany)
Baroness Nicholson (United Kingdom)
Mr Reimann (Switzerland)
Ms Anikashvili (Georgia)
Mr Matušić (Croatia)
Ms Marland-Militello (France)
Mr Flego (Croatia)
Draft recommendation adopted unanimously
3. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
4. Guaranteeing the authority and effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights
Presentation by Mr de Vries, on behalf of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of report, Doc. 12811
Mr Lecoq (France)
Mr Franken (Netherlands)
Ms Strik (Netherlands)
Mr Binley (United Kingdom)
Mr Dijkhoff (Netherlands)
Mr Salles (France)
Mr Michel (France)
Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom)
Mr Bockel (France)
Ms Grosskost (France)
Ms Blondin (France)
Mr Gross (Switzerland)
Mr Santini (Italy)
Mr Huseynov (Azerbaijan)
Mr Frunda (Romania)
Ms Karamanli (France)
Mr Aivaliotis (Greece)
Ms Zimmermann (France)
Mr Shershun (Ukraine)
Mr Biedroń (Poland)
Mr Di Nino (Observer from Canada)
Mr Sabella (Palestinian National Authority)
Mr de Vries (Netherlands)
Mr Chope (United Kingdom)
Point of order:
Lord Tomlinson (United Kingdom)
Draft resolution adopted unanimously
Draft recommendation adopted unanimously
5. Date, time and agenda of the next sitting
Representatives or Substitutes who signed the Attendance Register in accordance with Rule 11.2 of the Rules of Procedure. The names of Substitutes who replaced absent Representatives are printed in small letters. The names of those who were absent or apologised for absence are followed by an asterisk
Florin Serghei ANGHEL*
Khadija ARIB/Tineke Strik
Viorel Riceard BADEA*
Pelin Gündeş BAKIR
Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA
Alexander van der BELLEN/Sonja Ablinger
Roland BLUM/Rudy Salles
Federico BRICOLO/Giacomo Stucchi
Piet DE BRUYN*
Patrizia BUGNANO/Giuliana Carlino
Vannino CHITI/Anna Maria Carloni
Georges COLOMBIER/Marietta Karamanli
Carlos COSTA NEVES*
Joseph DEBONO GRECH*
Armand DE DECKER*
Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA*
Peter VAN DIJK*
Tülin ERKAL KARA
Doris FIALA/Luc Recordon
Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Tomáš Jirsa
Axel E. FISCHER*
Dario FRANCESCHINI/ Gianni Farina
Erich Georg FRITZ
Tamás GAUDI NAGY
Sophia GIANNAKA/Konstantinos Aivaliotis
Sylvi GRAHAM/ Ingjerd Schou
Carina HÄGG/Jonas Gunnarsson
Sabir HAJIYEV/Sevinj Fataliyeva
Margus HANSON/Indrek Saar
Hĺkon HAUGLI/Tor Bremer
Alfred HEER/Gerhard Pfister
Ali HUSEYNLI/ Sahiba Gafarova
Stanisław HUSKOWSKI/ Mirosława Nykiel
Shpëtim IDRIZI/Kastriot Islami
Denis JACQUAT/ Marie-Jo Zimmermann
Michael Aastrup JENSEN*
Birkir Jón JÓNSSON
Dalia KUODYTĖ/Egidijus Vareikis
Henrik Sass LARSEN*
François LONCLE/Maryvonne Blondin
Jean-Louis LORRAIN/Jacques Legendre
Nicole MANZONE-SAQUET/Bernard Marquet
Meritxell MATEU PI
Pirkko MATTILA/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila
Liliane MAURY PASQUIER
Ermira MEHMETI DEVAJA/Imer Aliu
José MENDES BOTA
Jean-Claude MIGNON/Christine Marin
Krasimir MINCHEV/Petar Petrov
Federica MOGHERINI REBESANI
Juan MOSCOSO DEL PRADO
Joăo Bosco MOTA AMARAL
Alejandro MUŃOZ ALONSO*
Philippe NACHBAR/Jean-Pierre Michel
Adrian NĂSTASE/Tudor Panţiru
Sandra OSBORNE/Michael Connarty
Nadia OTTAVIANI/Andrea Zafferani
Vassiliki PAPANDREOU/Elsa Papadimitriou
Lisbeth Bech POULSEN*
Marietta de POURBAIX-LUNDIN*
Cezar Florin PREDA
Valeriy PYSARENKO/Volodymyr Pylypenko
François ROCHEBLOINE/André Schneider
Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*
Branko RUŽIĆ/Elvira Kovács
Volodymyr RYBAK/Oleksiy Plotnikov
Kimmo SASI/Jaana Pelkonen
Urs SCHWALLER/Maximilian Reimann
Ladislav SKOPAL/Kateřina Konečná
Arūnė STIRBLYTĖ/Arminas Lydeka
Björn von SYDOW
Melinda SZÉKYNÉ SZTRÉMI/Gábor Tamás Nagy
Giorgi TARGAMADZÉ/Magdalina Anikashvili
John E. TOMLINSON
Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ
Konstantinos TZAVARAS/Alexandros Athanasiadis
Tomáš ÚLEHLA/Dana Váhalová
Giuseppe VALENTINO/Renato Farina
Klaas de VRIES*
Karin S. WOLDSETH/Řyvind Vaksdal
Vacant Seat, Bosnia and Herzegovina*
Vacant Seat, Cyprus*
Vacant Seat, Croatia*
Vacant Seat, Croatia*
Vacant Seat, Croatia*
Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*
Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*
Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*
Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*
Vacant Seat, Slovenia*
Vacant Seat, Slovenia*
Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote:
John Paul PHELAN
Mr Consiglio DI NINO
Hervé Pierre GUILLOT
Ms Martha Leticia SOSA GOVEA
Partners for democracy:
Representatives or Substitutes who took part in the ballot for the election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Piet DE BRUYN
Patrizia BUGNANO/Giuliana Carlino
Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Tomáš Jirsa
Alena GAJDŮŠKOVÁ/ Pavel Lebeda
Margus HANSON/Indrek Saar
Shpëtim IDRIZI/Kastriot Islami
Denis JACQUAT/ Marie-Jo Zimmermann
Birkir Jón JÓNSSON
Jean-Louis LORRAIN/Jacques Legendre
José MENDES BOTA
Jean-Claude MIGNON/Christine Marin
Federica MOGHERINI REBESANI
Philippe NACHBAR/Jean-Pierre Michel
François ROCHEBLOINE/André Schneider
Volodymyr RYBAK/Oleksiy Plotnikov
Giorgi TARGAMADZÉ/Magdalina Anikashvili