RAN Institute of State and Law,
Russia's key priorities during its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in May-November 2006 are united under a general motto "Toward united Europe without dividing lines". These activities focus on strengthening tolerance and mutual understanding in relations between people, expanding and improving cooperation in the field of culture, education, science and sports, encouraging youth exchanges.1
Culture is a "Way of Living Together"
This definition of culture was given in UNESCO's Universal Declaration of 2001. One of the major features of the present time is formation and development of the information society, based on the economy of knowledge, which means paramount
importance of human capital. Modern economic growth is primarily ensured by investments in knowledge which are growing faster than investments in capital assets.
In this situation, the unity of the triad "education - science -culture" remains unchanged, with culture largely determining the sphere of application of knowledge and scientific achievements, as well as the opportunities for using information technologies, the key factor of modern economic growth.
According to UNESCO's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted in 2001, the concept of "culture", in addition to art and literature, also encompasses lifestyles, "ways of living together", value systems, traditions and beliefs.2 The CE Committee of Ministers Declaration "On cultural diversity", adopted on 7 December 2000, specifies three aspects of cultural diversity:
1. Co-existence and exchange of culturally different practices (customs), provision and consumption of culturally different services and products;
2. Cultural diversity cannot be expressed without conditions for free creative expression and freedom of information in all forms of cultural exchange;
3. The importance of sustainable development, enabling not to compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs in the field of culture.3
On 20 October 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which emphasized the need for integration of culture in national and international development policy and
international cooperation. The Convention regards culture as one of the key development forces.
In this regard, it would be worthwhile referring to a range of provisions of the Fundamentals of RF Legislation on culture. For instance, Article 7 of the "Fundamentals" calls for obligatory consideration of cultural aspects in all governmental programs for economic, environmental, social and national development.
The UNESCO Convention of 2005 sets forth the idea of mutual complementarity of economic and cultural aspects of development, formalizing it as a guiding principle of sustainable development. Accordingly, Article 4 of the "Fundamentals of RF Legislation on culture" specifies the sphere of application of legislation, which covers diverse spheres, kinds and forms of cultural activities (utilization and protection of historical and cultural sites; fiction; cinema; various arts; folk handicrafts and trades; such folk cultural phenomena as languages, dialects and subdialects; folklore, customs and rites; museums and libraries; archives; audiovisual means as utilized for creation and dissemination of cultural values, etc.).
The CE Committee of Ministers Declaration "On cultural diversity" adopted in 2000 also has a number of provisions linking cultural diversity with economic development. On the whole, all documents specifying the essence and role of culture serve a wide social purpose, real cultural interaction and mutual respect of cultures.
Building "Cultural bridges" Between Peoples
Researchers in international politics note that "today it is not easy to find an area of international cooperation that is not covered by
treaty regulation"4. This is true, in particular, for interaction of states in the field of cultural links.
Analysis of concrete agreements in the field of culture, education and science between the RF government and governments of other countries - CE members over the past decade enables us to make certain observations with regard to the contents of these agreements and their role of "bridges" for mutual penetration of cultures and improved cultural diversity.
In the first place, one should note the generally integrated nature of these agreements, which cover interaction of the Parties in their respective fields of culture, education, science and sports. This basically meets the objective of improving cooperation in the humanitarian field and inter-state sociopolitical interaction in the framework of the Council of Europe. These agreements provide for a sufficiently diverse range of "standard" forms of interaction between the Parties (exchanges of specialists, exchange of experience and achievements, participation in joint projects, exchange of information and respective documentation, participation in conferences, symposiums, promotion of teaching and utilization of languages of the Parties, facilitation of popularization of cultural and artistic values of one's countries, translations of fiction and specialized literature, etc.).
Agreements include, as a widely common element, regulations specifying the possibility and advisability of direct contacts between respective organizations, institutions and individual specialists.
One could cite as one of the recent examples of cultural cooperation on the level of direct contacts the agreement
signed by the RF Minister of culture and mass communications and the Minister of culture of Finland in September 2005, in the framework of the VI Russian-Finnish cultural forum, which was held in Vologda.5 The agreement provides for cooperation of the Parties in the field of arts and culture, contributing to convergence and interaction of national cultures, development of direct contacts and increased mobility of artistic and cultural figures. Cooperation between the Parties will help elaborating a "road map" for the common space of science and education, including cultural aspects, pursuant to resolutions of the 2005 Moscow Russia - EU summit.6
It appears that, with a view to improving the content and role of intergovernmental agreements in the field of culture, it would also be advisable to systematically assess the content of agreements from the perspective of resolutions and recommendations of the CE Committee of Ministers on cultural issues.7
Thus, for instance, Recommendation N R(95)3 on coordinating methods and systems related to historic buildings and monuments of the architectural heritage (adopted on 11 January 1995) might contribute to processes of establishment of a common cultural space of Europe without dividing lines, based on a relevant inter-state agreement. Special agreements on cultural diversity, based on Recommendation N R(89)6 on protecting and strengthening rural architectural heritage (adopted on 13 April 1989), with the participation of Russia, possessing unique rural architectural riches represented by monuments of religious and other architecture, as well as residential houses decorated with rare antique wood carving,
etc., and European states, possessing respective monuments of art, would also expand and enrich the information fund containing data on cultural heritage of European nations.
Of no less importance than the statutory formalization of forms and kinds of cultural cooperation are the provisions aimed at organization of implementation of these agreements and prevention of breaches of law and international obligations of the Parties. Regulation of these issues usually involves setting up Joint commissions to supervise over cultural cooperation, elaborate and adopt concrete interaction programs and financial terms for their realization.
The problem of preventing and repressing potential breaches of law in the field of inter-state cultural cooperation, usually involving attempted illegal transfrontier transfers of cultural values, audiovisual materials and other items, is usually addressed in agreements through cooperation of competent state agencies of both Parties, organized to exchange information and take measures aimed at restoring legitimate property rights to cultural values in accordance with the national legislation, and having values returned to their former lawful owners. Examples of this interaction are joint operations code-named "Antiques", "Rarity", "Heritage", "Legacy". For instance, joint actions of Russian customs and militia in the operation code-named "Heritage" prevented the smuggling of paintings by Kandinsky, Klyun and Shagal, to a total cost exceeding 2 million US dollars. The attempted smuggling of Malevich's painting "Two female peasants on the road" (with a minimal insured value of 350,000 dollars in Russia) was prevented, too.8
There also happened a widely publicized scandalous arrest of French paintings from the collection of the Pushkin museum in June - November 2005, at the suit of Nogat company. This incident ended with a decision of the Swiss government to lift the arrest order on the paintings. RF Foreign Ministry noted that "this decision, fully complying with international legal norms, was dictated by a desire to prevent a worsening of Russian-Swiss inter-state relations in the situation which arose due to hasty and legally questionable actions of the judicial authorities of Swiss Canton Valais".9 It is the legally substantiated constructive position of the Swiss Foreign Ministry that was instrumental in settling the incident.
At present, Russia takes steps aimed at simplifying exchanges of cultural values by exempting from customs duties cultural values transferred across the border for the purpose of exhibiting.
Policy of Cultural Pluralism and its Present-Day Interpretation
The Final declaration of the Third Summit of the Council of Europe, which was held in May 2005 in Warsaw, outlined an action plan for development of cultural diversity. It was pointed out that "diversity must become a source of mutual enrichment, inter alia, by fostering ... inter-cultural dialogue". The Warsaw Summit strengthened the commitment of the Council of Europe to continue work on national minorities, inter alia, on the basis of the European Convention on protection of national minorities.10
There is a sufficiently diverse international legal regulatory framework elaborated for realization and protection of the
rights of national minorities - preservation of their identity, development of the native language, education, preservation and development of national culture, participation in sociopolitical, socio-economic and other activities.11 The existing legal acts ensure the right of national minorities to actively participate in cultural life, set up and support their own cultural institutions, organizations or associations, develop their cultural identity, establish and maintain free and peaceful transfrontier contacts with persons lawfully living in neighboring states, especially with persons of the same ethnic, cultural, language or religious community or possessing a common cultural heritage. At the same time, the Framework convention specifies that Parties may seek, whenever necessary, to formalize their cultural links with other, especially neighboring, states, through bilateral and multilateral treaties.
In Russia, provisions regulating numerous issues related to protection of the rights of ethnic groups are contained in a range of federal laws and laws of RF subjects in various fields of law.12 One of the most recent acts that provides for a most comprehensive regulation of these issues is the Federal Law "On national cultural autonomy" N 74 of 17 June 199613 (amended and revised, as of 30 November 2005). The Law contains not only a sufficiently extensive list of legal guarantees for the rights (including those in the cultural sphere) of RF citizens belonging to national minorities but also, which is especially important, provisions concerning establishment of legal conditions for realization of these rights. The RF legislation, in accordance with international standards,
provides for state support for national minorities on the part of state authority and local self-government bodies, which is needed to help them preserve their national identity, develop their national (native) language and national culture.14
Cultural diversity in the RF, including development of cultures of small-numbering peoples, is directly promoted by the statutory right of national minorities to maintain, without any discrimination, humanitarian contacts with citizens, public organizations of foreign states, as well as the right to independently conclude agreements with non-governmental organizations outside the RF on cultural exchanges and cooperation in preservation of national culture.15
The Declaration adopted at the First Summit of the Council of Europe in Vienna in 1993 stressed that "creation of a tolerant and prosperous Europe does not depend only on cooperation between States. It also requires transfrontier cooperation between local and regional authorities, without prejudice to the constitution and the territorial integrity of each State".16 This transfrontier cooperation has been increasingly more active. This is primarily due to the growing internationalization of social life and impossibility to address all issues of international cooperation in a centralized manner.
The Russian experience of developing transfrontier links affords grounds for regarding them as another important aspect of the policy of cultural pluralism. These include: a) the increasing numbers of agreements concluded by administrative territorial units of various states on a range of issues, including cooperation in the field of culture, and b) more local areas covered by regulation of cooperation between
the Parties, based on the interests and potential of local population (for instance, development of tourism for border areas, development of national cultural industries, trades, etc.). An important aspect of the cultural pluralism policy "originates" from the context of development and utilization of information technologies. The Declaration of the CE Committee of Ministers on a European policy for New Information Technologies, adopted on 7 May 1999 at the 104th session of the Committee of Ministers, welcomes "the opportunities offered by the new information technologies to promote freedom of expression and information, political pluralism and cultural diversity". In view of the changes brought about by digitalization of information networks, the Declaration considers it important:
1. With respect to ensuring the widest possible access to information technologies:
- to encourage the production and wide distribution of cultural and educational material and its widespread dissemination;
- to help individuals to develop competence in the use of new information technologies and their potential;
- to stimulate the innate creativity of each individual through information technologies literacy.
2. With respect to creativity of cultural industries:
- to encourage the use of the new information technologies as a means of forming creative partnerships, in particular between art, science and industry;
- to encourage cultural industries to increase their creativity and so provide production of quality products and services in the information networks;
3. With respect to political pluralism, cultural diversity and sustainable development:
- to promote the full use by all, including minorities, of the opportunities for exchange of opinion and self-expression offered by the new information technologies;
- to encourage the provision of cultural, educational and other products and services in a variety of languages and to promote the greatest possible diversity of these products and services.
In the seven years that passed since adoption of the Declaration of the CE Committee of Ministers on a European policy for New Information Technologies, the spectrum of their utilization has greatly expanded, providing new opportunities, e.g. for distance education, medical consulting, formation of national and international museums, picture galleries (including digitalized), inter-library servicing networks and other resources contributing to cultural interaction. In Russia, according to Minister of communications and information technologies L. Reiman, with a favorable development of the information technologies market, the total volume of this industry should increase five times between 2003 and 2010, and it should employ no less than 5% of the economically active population of the country. The concept of "information culture of the individual" is being gradually formed on this basis.17
1. RF President's Directive N 83-rp of 20 February 2006 // Collection of RF legislative acts, 04.03.1996, N 10, p. 883.
2. UNESCO Universal Declaration on cultural diversity // http://museum.philosophy.pu.ru/index.php?query=declar.
3. Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. Declaration on cultural diversity // http://cm.coe.int/ta/decl/2000/2000dec2.htm.
4. Lukashuk I. I. Modern law of international treaties. M. Walters Clover, 2004. p. 76.
5. Official website of the RF Ministry of culture and mass communications.
7. The number of resolutions and recommendations of the CE Committee of Ministers, like that of intergovernmental agreements, is numbered in hundreds, if not thousands.
8. On fighting illegal trafficking of cultural values // http://test.custdev.rbc.ru/ru/right_def/fight_with_contraband/nez_vivoz/.
9. RF Foreign Ministry welcomes Swiss decision to release the paintings // http://www.rian.ru/incidents/crime/20051117/42127186.html.
10. "Framework Convention on protection of national minorities" (ETS N 157) (Concluded in Strasbourg on 01.02.1995) // Collection of RF legislative acts. 15 March 1999. N 11. p. 1256. Ratified by the Federal Law N 84-FZ of 18 June 1998. 90 - 94; 1995 Framework Convention on protection of national minorities; document of the CSCE Copenhagen meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension (1990), etc.
11."Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities" (adopted on 18 December 1992 with Resolution 47/135 at the 92nd plenary session of the 47th session of the UN General Assembly) // Effective international law. Vol. 2. - M.: Moscow independent institute of international law, 1997. p. 90 - 94; 1995 Framework Convention on protection of national minorities; document of the CSCE Copenhagen meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension (1990), etc.
12. For more detail, see Puchkova M. V. Compliance of the RF Constitution and current legislation with RF international obligations in the field of protection of national minorities. // in "Problems of legal regulation of interethnic relations and antidiscrimination legislation in the Russian Federation. M. - EU cooperation program in Russia (TASIS). 2004. p. 105 - 161.
13. Collection of RF legislative acts, 17.06.1996, N 25, p. 2965.
14. Articles 4, 9, 16, 19 of Federal Law "On national cultural autonomy".
15. Articles 4, 13 of Federal Law "On national cultural autonomy".
16. Law of the Council of Europe an Russia. Krasnodar. 1996. p. 288.
17. Materials of the Center for development of the information society - Information letter N 24. March 2005. "Information and communication technologies and economy of knowledge".
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