Print this Page
Print this Page

Denmark/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

As a small state, since WWII, Denmark has sought to play an active role in the international field of cultural co-operation, within Nordic cooperation through the Nordic Council (Nordisk Råd) (the forum for Nordic parliamentary co-operation formed in 1952) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (Nordisk Ministerråd) (the forum for governmental co-operation formed in 1972), the Council of Europe, United Nations / UNESCO and the EU.

Nordic cooperation has been, and is, essential because of the common models of public cultural policy (see chapter 9.1 The Nordic Cultural Model ), dialogues and exchanges of common cultural experiences and a considerable cultural budget, which makes possible the implementation of several projects in the cultural field each year, e.g. joint Nordic film production (see chapter 3.4.3).

The Council of Europe is important because of the European Convention on Human Rights and the additional protocols (ratified by Denmark in 1953 and included in Danish legislation by Law no. 285 on 29 April 1992), the European Court of Human Rights, the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ratified in Denmark 22 December 1997 and set in to force on 1 February 1998) and concrete cultural policy actions such as the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe (launched in 1999) and the National Cultural Policy Reviews (initiated since 1986).

Denmark is working actively to protect national minorities in connection with its membership of the United Nations - and has obliged itself to protect ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, according to the Convention of Citizenship and Political Rights from 23 March 1976, Article 27. In 1992, at the 47th UN General Conference, a resolution (47/135) on the Legal Rights of National, Ethnical, Religious or Linguistic Minorities was declared. Denmark was co-initiator to the resolution, stating several important rights for people belonging to such minorities. The declaration incorporates also an obligation for the states involved to make sure that these rights are being practiced. A resolution in this regard has been on the agenda at the UN Conference and UN Human Rights Commission. Denmark sought membership of the UN Human Rights Council at the elections in 2007.

Denmark has been a member of UNESCO since 1945. The Danish UNESCO Commission administration is placed at the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Culture has been the proactive body in the process of negotiating, implementing and monitoring the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in October 2005. The Convention was approved by the Parliament on 18 December 2006. The Ministry of Culture will at least once a year call the cultural institutions to a general conference to hear and discuss what has been implemented in the individual institution. The first conference was held at the Ministry of Culture on 10 January 2007. The institutions represented and the members of the parliamentary Committee of Culture were all welcomed and the Convention a useful tool to improve cultural democracy and diversity on a national, European and global cultural level.

Denmark has consistently led an active role in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) regarding the promotion and protection of national minorities. This is illustrated by the membership of a German minority representative in the Danish delegation to the meetings in OSCE. At the last meeting of the OSCE Council of Ministers, on 4-5 December 2006, the human rights obligations of the organisation were emphasised by Denmark for future focus.

Today, the EU is the most important European framework for international cultural cooperation together with the UN / UNESCO on the global scale. Denmark has been an increasingly active member of the EU since 1973 – especially in the cultural field following Denmark's proactive role in the initiation, preparation and formulation of the cultural Article 128 of the Maastricht Treaty, which states:

  • that cultural cooperation is an official part of The Rome Treaty;
  • that cultural cooperation is a value in itself and should not be subordinated to economical purposes; and
  • that national subsidising of cultural institutions and artistic activities should be respected, with a few exceptions, as legal in accordance with the competition and discrimination laws of the EU-treaty.

Denmark sets the standard with respect to fast implementation of EU regulations into national legislation and it has the lowest number of infringement proceedings before the Court of Justice. Because of the Danish tradition for open public debate and administration, Denmark is continuously arguing for more transparency in the EU system and for implementation of clear and visible results for individual citizens, artists and cultural institutions. In recent years, Denmark has worked actively to see greater enlargement of the European Union succeed and is participating in all the cultural programmes of the EU (see chapter 3.4.3).

The coordinating and treatment of EU and WTO issues is issued by the European Affairs Committee in the Parliament. All the political parties in the Parliament are represented in the Committee. A Report on reforming the Folketing´s treatment of EU issues, dealing with the inclusion of the sector committees, controlling the principle of subsidiarity, a better basis for decisions and openness, was approved by the European Affairs Committee on 10 December 2004. The report can be downloaded:

Denmark has several cultural cooperation agreements with other countries, mostly European. The conditions for budget, cooperation activities etc. is laid down in negotiations between the cultural ministries involved every second year. The last negotiation concerning bilateral cultural cooperation took place with Austria in 1995. Since then, appropriations allocated by the Ministry to bilateral national cultural cooperation have been handed over to the institutions.

Chapter published: 10-04-2012

Your Comments on this Chapter?