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Bills on various cultural spheres were in process at the end of 2014 - on Archives, on Amendments to the Law on Culture, on Amendments to the Libraries and Informatics, on Amendments to the Law on Old and Rare Library Materials, on Amendments to the Law on the Legal Deposit of Publications.

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Serbia/ 5.2 Legislation on culture  

The first task of the new government in 2000, after the systematic changes in the country, was to impose the rule of law in all fields, which means re-creating the basic and most important state legislative documents starting with the Constitution.

Without a basic legal framework, which defines the territorial organisation of the country, property issues, privatisation, taxation etc., work on specific concrete laws in the cultural field would be futile. This was one of the reasons why many new laws relevant for the cultural field are only now in the process of being drafted while more general state laws are passed and Parliamentary procedures set up. This was the reason why the Law on Culture, prepared in 2007, was adopted by the Parliament in 2009.

Table 4:    List of existing cultural legislation

Title of the Act

Year of adoption

Law on Issuing Publications

1994;SG RS, 37/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94

Law on Serbian Literary Society

1997; SG RS, 20/97

Law on Matica Srpska

1992; SG RS, 49/92

Law on Cinematography


Law on Ratification of the Protocol to the Agreement on the importation of artefacts of educational, scientific or cultural character

1981; SG RS 7/81

Law on Endowments and Foundations

2010; SG RS 88/10

Law on Culture

2009; SG RS 72/2009

Law on Library and Information Sector

2011; SG RS 52/11

Law on Old and Rare Library Materials

2011; SG RS 52/11

Law on Legal Deposit of Publications

2011; SG RS 52/11

Law on Renewal of Cultural and Historical Heritage and Support for Development of Sremski Karlovci

1991; am. 1993 and 1994; SG RS, 37/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94

Law on Establishment of the Museum of Genocide Victims

1992; am. 1993 and 1994; SG RS, 49/92, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94

Law on Heritage Protection

1994; SG RS, 71/94

Publishing Law

1991; am. 1993, 1994, 2004, 2005; SG RS, 37/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94, 135/2004, 101/2005

Copyright Law


Regulations on the keeping of records of persons who perform independent artistic or other activity in the field of culture

2010; SG RS 41/10

Regulation on conditions, criteria and method of acquisition and withdrawal of the status of cultural institutions of national importance

2010; SG RS 40/10

Regulation on detailed conditions and manner of awarding recognition for outstanding contribution to national culture, and culture of national minorities

2010; SG RS 36/10

Rules on determining the composition and operation of the Commission determining the representativeness of the associations and the termination of the status of representative associations in culture

2010; SG RS 57/10

Regulation on the procedures, criteria and standards for the selection of cultural projects that are financed and co-financed from the budget of the Republic of Serbia

2010; SG RS 57/10

Regulations on the content and the way of keeping of records of the public cultural institutions, located on the territory of the Republic of Serbia

2010; SG RS 38/10

The Decree on special awards for contribution to the development of culture

2010; SG RS 91/10

Draft bills

Short description of progress

Law on Archive Documentation and Archive Sector

Draft version was open to public debate from January 2010. Final version is in preparation.

According to the report from Ministry of Culture, following laws are in administrative procedure (November 2014):

  • New Law on Archives;
  • The Bill on Amendments of the Law on Culture;
  • The Bill on Amendments of the Libraries and Informatics;
  • The Bill on Amendments of the Law on Old and Rare Library Materials;
  • The Bill on Amendments of the Law on the Legal Deposit of Publications; and
  • The initiative for the amendment of the Law on Public Purchases.

Table 5:    Overview of the international legal instruments

Title of the Act

Year of adoption

Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Case of Armed Conflict

Hague, 1954; Ratified in 1956. SG FNRJ, 4/56

Convention on the means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Paris, 1970; Ratified in 1973. SL SFRJ, 50/73

Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage

Paris, 1972; Ratified in 1974. SL SFRJ, 56/74

Convention for the Protection of European Architectural Heritage

Granada, 1985; Ratified in 1991. SL SFRJ, 4/91

Protocol to the Agreement on the importation of educational, scientific or cultural items

Florence, 1950; Ratified in 1981. SL SFRJ, 7/81

Convention on the archaeological heritage

Valletta, 1992;

Convention on the conservation of intangible cultural heritage

Paris, 2003; In the parliamentary procedure.

European Convention on Cinematographic production

Strasbourg, 1992; Ratified in 2004

European Landscape Convention

Florence, 2000; Signed

Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society

Faro, 2005; Signed

Draft bills

Short description of progress

Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Paris, 2005; government adopted it in November 2006 and passed it on to the Parliament. Since then in the parliamentary procedure

The new Law on Culture is based on 10 principles of cultural development - freedom of expression of cultural and artistic creation; autonomy of subjects in culture; openness and availability of the cultural content to the public and citizens; respect for the cultural and democratic values of European and national traditions and diversity of cultural expression; integration of cultural development into social-economic and political long-term development of the democratic society; democratic cultural policy; equality of the subject in the process of establishment of institutions and other legal entities in culture and equality in the working process of all institutions and other subjects in culture; decentralisation of the decision-making process, organising and financing of cultural activities; encouraging the cultural and artistic creation and preservation of cultural and historical heritage; encouraging a sustainable development of the cultural environment as an integral part of the living environment.

General interest in culture includes: creating possibilities for intensive and coordinated cultural development; making conditions for nurturing cultural and artistic creation; research, protection and use of cultural goods; financing of cultural institutions founded by the Republic of Serbia; financing programmes and projects of the organisations and associations, as well as other subjects which are contributing to the development of culture and the arts; discovering, creating, researching, preserving and presenting of Serbian culture and culture of national minorities; creating conditions for the availability of the cultural heritage to the public; research, preserving and use of goods of special value for the culture and history of the Serbian people, which are located outside of the Republic of Serbia; encouraging and helping the cultural expressions which are the result of creativity of individuals, groups and associations of Serbs abroad; encouraging international cultural collaboration; encouraging professional and scientific research in the field of culture; spreading and developing education in the field of culture; encouraging the use of new technologies in culture, especially concerning IT and digitalisation; construction of a unique library information system and central function in the library sector; construction of a unique IT system in the sector of cultural heritage protection; encouragement of young talent in the field of cultural and artistic creation; creating conditions for the encouragement of independent cultural and artistic creation; encouragement of amateur cultural and artistic creation; encouragement of children's creativity and creativity for children and youth in culture; encouragement of cultural and artistic creation of people with special needs, and promoting accessibility to all with special needs; encouraging the art market, sponsors, patrons and donors of culture.

The law defines cultural activities and fields of cultural activities as:

  • research, protection and use of cultural heritage;
  • library information activities;
  • books and literature (creation, publishing, bookstores, translating);
  • music (creation, production, interpretation);
  • visual and applied arts and architecture;
  • performing arts and interpretation (drama, opera, ballet and dance);
  • cinematography and audio-visual creations;
  • art photography;
  • digital creations and multimedia;
  • scientific and educational activities in culture; and
  • other musical, rhetorical, artistic and stage performances of cultural programmes.

One of the most important things that the new law brings is the foundation of the National Council for Culture, which has the role of providing permanent support from experts in preserving, developing and expanding culture. The Council will have the task of analysing and giving opinions on the state of the field of culture in the Republic of Serbia; giving suggestions for creating cultural policy; giving suggestions in the development of cultural activities; participating in the creation of the strategy of cultural development and providing the monitoring for its execution; recommending the criteria for gaining the status of artistic excellence, or an expert in the field of culture; giving suggestions for the arrangements concerning other questions in the field of culture as well as inter-departmental cooperation (science, education, urbanism, international cooperation, etc.). The Council was constituted on 12 July 2011, and has 19 members. They are selected every 5 years from the circles of eminent and recognised artists and professionals in the cultural sector. The Council is still not operational, and no one can predict if their role will be proactive or just representative.

The strategy for cultural development of the Republic of Serbia was in the process of development, planned for a period of 10 years, but since the government was changed in 2012, it is still not clear what work will be continued, or if there will be a new team to start over.

Important change comes also from the definition of subjects in the field of culture - cultural institutions, cultural associations, artists, collaborators / cultural experts and other subjects in culture. The law regulates the main principles of functioning of all these subjects.

Possibly the biggest change comes with the institution of a public competition for the managers of public cultural institutions. They are elected for a period of 4 years, and can be re-elected. All of the candidates are obliged to present their plan for the functioning and development of the institution. Public institutions can also have one or more artistic directors, which are selected by the board of the institution. When it comes to employees - a person can work in a cultural institution only based on a contract for a period of 3 years, which can be renewed. Persons with over 20 (men) / 17.5 (women) years of work experience can obtain permanent work status.

Gaining the status of National Cultural Institution of Excellenceis no longer permanent. The government will award this status to an institution according to criteria which will be formed, but can also take this status away. Also, there can be two recognised representative associations for every artistic sector (visual arts, applied arts, drama arts...); and this status can be removed. The status of self-employed artists, self-employed cultural experts, performers of cultural programmes and independent collaborators in culture are defined in the law.

This Law on Culture became operational from March 2010, although it depends on a number of sub-laws and ministry rulebooks that will have to go through the government or the Serbian Parliament. Because of the complicated administrative procedures, it will evidently take much longer to have the Law on Culture fully operational. Although a number of sub-laws and regulations were adopted during 2010 and 2011, a large number of the announced and planned changes that it introduces in the field of culture are still just a word on a paper.

Chapter published: 18-08-2015

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