Improving the Situation of Roma (12/2012)
The publication of Jean-Pierre Liégeois: "The Council of Europe and Roma: 40 years of action" is a reference work and an analysis intended to further knowledge and inspire reflection on Roma issues. It presents a summary of the relevant adopted texts and activities by placing them in a historical perspective, while aiming at "a long-term vision". Devised to be useful to both political decision makers and to administrative representatives - at European, national and local levels - and to activists in non-governmental organisations, this work will interest everyone concerned by the situation of Roma in Europe.
Defamation and Freedom of Expression (11/2012)
The purpose of provisions on defamation is to protect the reputation of individuals as well as specific state symbols (such as the national flag or anthem). The study, prepared by the secretariat of the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI), investigates the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on freedom of expression in the context of defamation cases and reviews Council of Europe and other international standards as well as legal provisions on defamation in various Council of Europe member states. It also attempts to identify trends in the development of rules on defamation, both in national legal systems and in international law.
The right of everyone to take part in cultural life (01/2012)
Report of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe regarding the right of everyone to take part in cultural life.
Human rights apply online as well as offline (11/2011)
The Conference "Our Internet - Our rights, our freedoms. Towards the Council of Europe strategy on Internet Governance" was held in Vienna, 24-25 November 2011. In this context, the Council of Europe, together with several of its member states, highlighted its new strategy on Internet governance 2012-2015 which underlines, inter alia: "Human rights apply online as well as offline, with particular emphasis on the importance of access"; Data protection should be enhanced; "common minimum principles of understanding about the Internet" should be developed, addressing access, anonymity, transparency, empowerment - especially of children - and the importance of a "multi-stakeholder approach" to policy shaping and making.
Living Together - Combining diversity and freedom in 21st-century Europe (4/2011)
This report has been prepared by a group of nine "eminent persons" from all parts of Europe, headed by the former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. The mission of the Group - which also shapes the content of its Report - was to assess "the seriousness of the risks to the Council of Europe values posed by rising intolerance and the spread of 'communitarian' approaches", to identify the sources of these phenomena and to define of a new concept of "living together". Among other strategic recommendations, the Report urges the Council of Europe (and also its Member States, local governments, the EU and civil society)
FACEBOOK - a potential threat to human rights? (04/2011)
Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, reflects in a commentary the pros and cons of Internet-based "social networks". On the one hand, he acknowledges that "the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were to a large extent made possible by social networking, primarily on Facebook" and could be seen as "perhaps the most compelling example so far of how online connectivity can translate into real life, positive social change". On the other hand, he reminds us of the fact that the huge amount of personal data collected by these networks is not only being used for commercial purposes, but could also fall into the hands of states or of political powers whose intentions may differ a lot from those seen in Cairo or Tripolis. In his view, the right to privacy of all individuals is at stake here, "which is an integral element of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights" and should, therefore, be reinforced by amending the Council of Europe Convention for Protection of Personal Data.
ECRI: Racist violence is growing in Europe (07/2010)
In its latest annual report, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe examines the main trends in the field of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Europe. It expresses its concern about the effects of the economic crisis on vulnerable groups - in particular the rise in unemployment and cuts to social services. The negative climate of public opinion, fuelled by increasingly xenophobic political speech, has led to immigrants being held responsible for unemployment and the deterioration of security. At the presentation of the Report, the Chair of ECRI, Nils Muiznieks, regretted that 29 Council of Europe member states have not yet ratified Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination in general, and called on them to do so as soon as possible.
Intercultural Dialogue in the Framework of European Human Rights Protection (White Paper Series - Volume 1) (04/2010)
This report analyses the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in terms of the promotion of cultural diversity, as championed by the Council of Europe particularly through its "White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue" (2008). The Court's views on the governance principles and preconditions of intercultural dialogue - and particularly the case law on freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly - provide guidelines for politicians, academics and practitioners alike
Should the Burqa be Made Illegal in Europe? (03/2010)
"Rulings anywhere that women must wear the Burqa should be condemned - but banning such dresses here would be wrong". This opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, published in a "Viewpoint" article on 8 March 2010, is in line with earlier positions he had taken on controversial issues, such as the "Danish Muhammad Caricature Conflict", where he had also opted against the introduction of new legislation - in that case against criminalising blasphemy. In a "Viewpoint" article published in June 2007, he explained his conviction that "restrictions on freedom of information and expression should be seen as a truly exceptional measure, one which needs to be decided upon through democratic means, and justified as a matter of absolute necessity for which new specific legislation on blasphemy is not needed".
Jagland: The Council of Europe as a "Lighthouse" and Trusted Monitoring Organisation (01/2010)
In his address to the Committee of Ministers on 20. January 2010, Secretary General Thorbjà¸rn Jagland underlined his view of the Council of Europe as "the only organisation which has the mandate and the necessary tools to effectively and comprehensively monitor the compliance with obligations related to the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law."
The Council of Europe and human rights - An introduction to the European Convention on Human Rights (2010)
Just what are your human rights, and how does the Council of Europe protect them? This small book tells the story simply and clearly, making a complicated issue straightforward. It offers examples illustrating each right in the European Convention on Human Rights, and short explanations placing the European Court of Human Rights in the wider context of other Council of Europe activities that also promote the same ideals.
Manual on the wearing of religious symbols in public areas (2009)
This manual explores how the European Convention on Human Rights relates to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It identifies the key concepts which can be found in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and examines the role and responsibilities of both state and citizen.
State, Religion, Secularity and Human rights (2007)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in its Recommendation 1804 of 29 June 2007, reaffirmed "the principle of the independence of politics and law from religion", considering"religious organisations as part of civil society". In that spirit, it asked to "remove from legislation [in Member States]... elements likely to be discriminatory from the angle of democratic religious pluralism."
Blasphemy, Religious Insults and Hate Speech Against Persons on Grounds of their Religion (2007)
Simultaneously, the Parliamentary Assembly, in its Recommendation 1805 (2007), underlined "that in a democratic society, religious groups must tolerate, as must other groups, critical public statements and debate about their activities, teachings and beliefs, provided that such criticism does not amount to intentional and gratuitous insults or hate speech and does not constitute incitement to disturb the peace or to violence and discrimination against adherents of a particular religion." It thus adopted the position of a Report (March 2007) of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) on this subject.
European Declaration on Cultural Objectives (1984)
The Declaration, adopted by the 4th Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Cultural Affairs in Berlin, stresses, inter alia, "that the various European cultures are strongly rooted in a humanitarian and religious tradition, which is the source of their dedication to freedom and human rights".
Shaheed-Report on "The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity" (03/2013)
Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, to the UN Human Rights Council. See more under "Status of Artists".
Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression (2011)
This publication of William H. Dutton, Anna Dopatka, Michael Hills, Ginette Law and Victoria Nash deals with "The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet" (sub-title). It includes several case studies world-wide and sees freedom of expression not just as a by-product of technical change; it must be protected by legal and regulatory measures that balance a variety of potentially conflicting values and interests in a complex global ecology of choices. ISBN 978-92-3-104188-4
Integrating Human Rights, Culture and Gender in Programming (2009)
Interactive manual for training workshops with UN-related development practitioners, published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The aim of the manual is to show basics of how to communicate, negotiate and mediate about culturally sensitive issues. It includes a programming tool - the "Culture Lens" - developed by UNFPA, as well as discussion of how it relates to international development goals, and how it can be applied. As well, case studies from different national contexts and articles/reference documents related to culture have been added.
Promotion and Protection of Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1999)
United Nations General Assembly resolution 53/144, 8 March 1999
Stockholm "Action Plan on Cultural Policies for Development"(1998)
The Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development, held at Stockholm (30 March-2 April 1998), produced a final declaration with many references to ethical and rights issues, including but not limited to: participation in cultural life; intercultural dialogue; artistic freedom; civil society involvement; cultural education; gender equality; linguistic diversity.
A New Global Ethics (1996)
The first chapter of the Summary Version of "Our Creative Diversity", the influential Report of the UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development, Paris 1996, p.16/17.
Discrimination in the EU in 2012 (11/2012)
This survey looks into attitudes and perceptions of Europeans towards discrimination, based on different grounds (gender, ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity). As the last Eurobarometer on this topic, from 2009, this survey also includes several questions on the impact of the crisis on the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and efforts. New questions have been added to cover important or emerging topics, such as the situation of the Roma in Europe, discrimination outside the workplace or the links between discrimination and accessibility.
Transfers of asylum seekers must respect fundamental rights (12/2011)
Under the Dublin Regulation (343/2003/EC), asylum applicants are, in principle, to be dealt with by the country where they first entered the EU, leading to increased migratory pressure on Member States with an external Schengen land border. In January 2010, the European Court of Human Rights held in MSS v. Belgium & Greece that asylum seekers' rights under the Convention would be violated should those persons be transferred to Greece under the Dublin system, given the substandard quality of the asylum facilities there. In its judgment on NS v. SSHD, released on 21 December 2011, the European Court of Justice has revisited this issue. Considering both the Dublin Regulation and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (CFR), it basically confirmed the previous decision. Thus, transfers cannot be permitted where they would amount to a breach of Art. 4 CFR.
A la recherche d'un équilibre entre le droit à l'égalité et d'autres droits fondamentaux (06/2010)
Based on individual cases, this publication identifies a number of conflicts between certain fundamental rights and the right to equality and non-discrimination with a view to defining how the national legislature or courts should reason when faced with such conflicts. The two editors (legal experts Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive) highlight "an inflation of conflicts between fundamental rights" while also discussing "real and false conflicts". Among the most important tensions identified are the right of conscientious objection on religious or philosophical grounds and the principle of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender. The report will soon be available also in English and German.
Privacy and Security on the Internet (03/2010)
A hearing of the European Parliament on 5 March 2010 debated the extent to which freedom is under threat through the Internet. In his Report to the Parliament on the Internet and fundamental rights, Rapporteur Stavros Lambrinidis (GR) calls for better and more efficient protection of user data, such as the "right to obtain the permanent deletion of personal data located on internet websites".
Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union (2007)
Cooperation between the European Union and the Council fo Europe in matters relating to, inter alia, human rights, ethical issues and intercultural dialogue is guided by this Memorandum, which was signed by both parties in May 2007. On this basis, more concrete settlements have been reached, such as the Agreement on cooperation between the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe (2008).
European Agenda for Culture in a Globalising World(2007)
A new cultural strategy of the European Commission was published in May 2007. It includes references to human rights and identifies cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, creativity and innovation and culture as key elements of the EU's internal and external relations activities.
Cultural Participation as a Human Right? (01/2013)
At a press conference held on 15 January 2013, city officials from Wroclaw (Poland) announced their intention to strive, in cooperation with the Polish Government, for an inclusion of the "right to participation in culture" as one of the basic rights in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe. A Panel of Experts held on March 6 in Wroclaw, co-organized with NCK (National Centre of Culture), is to further clarify this issue. In 2011, the city of Wroclaw had been selected - together with San Sebastian in Spain - to become the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) in 2016.
Controversial Ban of a Theatre Play in Malta (06/2010)
A new ruling of the Civil Court of Malta justifying the 2009 ban of the play "Stitching" of Scottish writer Anthony Neilson on the grounds of "extensive use of language which was vulgar, obscene and blasphemous and which exalted perversion and undermined the right to life" revived controversial debates on fundamental rights (freedom of expression) in that country. Following numerous incidents on censorship and a Human Rights case on infringement of freedom of expression in 2009, the Minister responsible for Culture announced a thorough review of the classification as part of the 2011 cultural policy.
Culture & Ethics
This Website is part of "The Power of Culture" platform which has been developed on behalf of the Dutch National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (Nationale Commissie voor Internationale Samenwerking en Duurzame Ontwikkeling).
See also: http://www.powerofculture.nl/en/theme/ethics
Fair Culture? (2006/7)
Report published by the Finnish Ministry of Education on the ethical dimension of cultural policy and cultural rights.
Agenda 21 for Culture (2004)
Adopted by the International Federation of Cities and Local Governments (Barcelona), this Agenda underlines a commitment to human rights, cultural diversity, sustainability and participatory democracy.
Conference "Human Rights and Intercultural Dialogue in Development" (12/2012)
On the occasion of the Human Rights Day (10th December), the Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA) organised this International Conference in Paris. The Conference was attended by 60 participants representing Local Authorities and CSOs coming from the enlarged Europe. The conference has been organized within the framework of the multi-annual WTD – Working Together for Development programme, which aims at exploring the opportunities Local Authorities and Civil Society Organizations have in working together to promote more sustainable global development achievements. The discussion focused on the linkages between Human Rights and global development and included speakers like Catherine Lalumière, President of the French Federation of the Houses of Europe, Pierre Barge, Honorary President of the European Association for the Defense of Human Rights (AEDH) and Christoph Eberhard, Professor in Anthropology and Theory of the Law at the University of Saint Louis in Brussels.
"All that is Banned is Desired" (10/2012)
This Arab proverb is also the motto of the first World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression, organised by Fritt Ord and Freemuse, that was held in Oslo, Norway, on October 25-26, 2012. The Conference is to mark the beginning of a concerted effort to enhance the monitoring of and defense against violations of artists' freedom of expression worldwide. Following the Conference (October 27), representatives of key international and regional arts and human rights organisations will launch a new global network, Artsfex. Aims of Artsfex are:
1. Information exchange, awareness raising and monitoring;
2. Advocacy; and
3. Facilitating networking and collaboration.
Justice for the World
Through their "Human Rights News", the editors of this independent global Internet platform based in The Netherlands strive towards a better protection of human rights and "to creatively raise awareness in this world by word and via art."
Ethics and Cultural Policy (2008)
Through its D'Art process of gathering information from different sources, the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) participated in a project of Finland's Ministry of Education, Science and Culture on the ethical dimensions of cultural policy that led to the report Fair Culture? (see above). The publication argues that cultural rights are central to the identity, coherence and autonomy of nations. It identifies three main ways of viewing ethical issues in cultural policy (as cultural freedoms, as cultural rights and as cultural benefits), none of which is necessarily more 'correct' or valuable than the other. The D'Art report by Hannele Koivunen and Leena Marsio summarises the Ministry's research project and outlines future directions for research and action.
Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Rights (2007)
The Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Rights was launched by the Observatory of Diversity and Cultural Rights at the University of Fribourg, together with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and UNESCO, on May 7, 2007 and at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on May 8. It is supported by many human rights personalities and NGOs. According to Patrice Meyer-Bisch, coordinator and professor at the Observatory, cultural rights are an indivisible part of human rights - not in opposition to them. The Download includes texts in English, French and German.
A Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (1997)
Proposal of the InterAction Council of 1 September 1997 that emphasizes individual ethical responsibilities in society. It has influenced other declarations including the above mentioned UN General Assembly resolution of 1999.
The Concept of Human Dignity in Indigenous Philosophies (9/2011)
In the course of the ongoing intercultural dialogue about human rights, initiatives such as the Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Rights of 2007 tried to fill a gap in the protection of the whole of human rights. In the same year, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples gave this debate another twist: Ethical values of indigenous people and their role in protecting social cohesion and environmental sustainability could indeed be seen as an inspiration to the future human rights discourse. In this context, a conference of the Oslo University, the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on "The Concept of Human Dignity in Indigenous Philosophies" (September 2011) has been a noteworthy activity that could improve the knowledge of cultural dimensions of human rights.
Habermas: The Concept of Human Dignity and the Realistic Utopia of Human Rights (06/2010)
In a keynote lecture held on 17. June 2010 in the University of Frankfurt at the International Congress "Human Rights Today: Foundations and Politics", philosopherJürgen Habermas called for a new "drive towards the merger of the contents of rational ethics with the forms of positive law, leading to a generalisation of the - originally status-bound - dignity toward a true 'human dignity'", which could create the need for an introduction of more socially-oriented basic laws into the domain of human rights. According to him, frequent violations of human dignity, be it in the context of armed conflicts and of the enforcement of Great Power interests or in the local neighbourhood, should motivate such a change of paradigm.
Tolerance: reason and rights (2009)
Published in Research JournalBlogs, Bernard Leckning introduces and discusses three basic articles of German philosophers Rainer Forst and Jürgen Habermas on issues of tolerance in current societies - including different definitions, social and legal interpretations, limits of toleration, religious issues and implications for cultural rights. Leckning works as a researcher at Macquarie University (Sydney/Australia), Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology.
Chart of Francophone Cultural Diversity Research (2006)
This basic document of the francophone researcher's network "Diversité des expressions culturelles et artistiques, et mondialisations", published on 7 April 2006 in Paris, provides an orientation for its members. Among main research issues, topics such as language pluralism, cultural identity and diversity or post-colonial governance are identified in the text.
On global ethics as an action-directed research discipline (2006)
Article for the "Marburger Forum" by Ronald Commers,head of the philosophy and moral science department in the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts at Ghent University (Belgium). He confronts the idea of a 'New World Agenda' as proposed by international organizations such as UNESCO (e.g. in its 1995 Report 'Our Creative Diversity') and human development goals (from UNDP Reports) with current indicators for economic development. From that, he outlines basic elements of 'global ethics' as a research discipline.
Global Justice - Beyond International Equity (2001)
In his article published in polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 3 (2001), Amartya K. Sen tries to develop a new perspective for justice taking account of both the formation of international solidarity and the constructions of identity patterns that go beyond national borders. It seeks a way between the established approaches of "grand universalism" and "national particularism". Arguing on the basis of the concept of "plural affiliation", Sen points to the range of multiple identities accessible to individuals and, as a consequence, wants to make "justice" applicable to a corresponding diversity of socio-political realities, independent of the idea of national frameworks.
Swiss Voters' Minaret Ban as seen by International Press Commentators (2009)
An overview of - mostly negative - foreign press reactions to the November 2009 decision of Swiss voters to ban the construction of minarets, published by swissinfo.ch (a division of the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SBC, whose mission is to inform Swiss living abroad about events in their homeland and to raise awareness of Switzerland in other countries)
Declaration towards a Global Ethic (1993)
According to this paper of the Global Ethic Foundation for Inter-cultural, Inter-religious Research, Education and Encounter (President: Swiss-German theologian Hans Küng), the fundamental crisis in global economy, global ecology, and global politics is due to the "lack of a grand vision, the tangle of unresolved problems, political paralysis, mediocre political leadership with little insight or foresight, and in general too little sense for the commonweal are seen everywhere: Too many old answers to new challenges". The founders and supporters of the foundation are committed "to the precepts and practices of the world's religions. We confirm that there is already a consensus among the religions which can be the basis for a global ethic - a minimal fundamental consensus concerning binding values, irrevocable standards, and fundamental moral attitudes."
Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics
The Center focuses on building ethical competences in present and future decision makers in business, politics, and society through seminars, international conferences and publications: Founded on the theoretical concept of "economic ethics", it wants to create opportunities to foster and implement ethics and morality under the condition of globalization, competition and market economy.