The Netherlands participates in multilateral cultural relationships through its membership of, for example, the Council of Europe and the United Nations (UNESCO).
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe’s vision, that freedom of expression is paramount as a fundamental right, plays an important role in Dutch media policy. Since the start of the programme in 1988, the Netherlands participates in Eurimages, the Council of Europe Fund for the co- production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works. The Netherlands also participates in the European Audiovisual Observatory. The observatory’s task is to improve the transfer of, and access to, information on the four areas of film, television, video/DVD and new media. The Netherlands also participates in the Heritage Open Days that take place in the 50 member countries of the European Cultural Convention. The Netherlands has ratified the Granada Convention, the Valletta Convention and the European Landscape Convention. These conventions form the backbone of the Dutch care for (archaeological) monuments and cultural landscape in its environment.
The Netherlands currently takes part in the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union (2014-2020) and will also take part in the period 2021-2027. The Dutch Creative Europe Desk, part of DutchCulture, is responsible for promoting and facilitating participation in Creative Europe. It offers advice for organisations that want to apply for the programme. Furthermore, the Dutch Creative Europe Desk takes a leading role in developing new programmes within the Creative Europe scheme for the next period like Music Moves Europe.
In 1992, the Netherlands signed the UNESCO World Heritage Treaty (1972), to protect and stimulate knowledge of and respect for natural and cultural world heritage. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has ten natural and cultural sites on the World Heritage List. The seventeenth century canal ring (grachtengordel) in Amsterdam and the Van Nellefabriek (a modernist factory complex) in Rotterdam are the most recent sites on the heritage list, added in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
The National Cultural Heritage Agency is in charge of implementing the World Heritage Convention in the Netherlands. The Dutch World Heritage sites are united in the Foundation World Heritage Netherlands and the foundation’s primary goal is to increase the visibility of the Dutch World Heritage sites and to create a platform for exchanging knowledge and experiences.
The Dutch National Commission for UNESCOwas established in 1947 and is part of a worldwide network of nearly 200 commissions. Its primary objective is to increase the overall visibility of UNESCOin the Netherlands, to raise awareness about the mission of the organisation and to advise the Dutch government on the implementation of the UNESCO Conventions. It is also partner in various capacity building programs, such as the program for World Heritage site managers. In 2015 and 2018, it (co)organised the international ICCROM training First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Armed Conflict.
In 2009, the Netherlands ratified the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Information and Heritage Inspectorate cooperates with both customs and police to fight illicit traffic in cultural goods. With regards to stolen cultural goods, the Dutch police works with the Interpol network, especially using the database of stolen works of arts.
The 1954 UNESCO Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict guarantees the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. The Netherlands played an important part in the establishment of this convention. It was drafted in 1954 in the Peace Palace in The Hague, after which it was ratified immediately by the Dutch government. The same happened in 1999, when a second protocol was added to the convention.
In order to protect the intangible heritage, UNESCO drafted the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in 2003. The Netherlands ratified the Convention in 2012. The Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Kenniscentrum Immaterieel Erfgoed Nederland), funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, coordinates the national inventory of the Dutch intangible heritage based on nominations drawn up by communities that safeguard this heritage. In 2017, the craft of the miller operating windmills and watermills was the first Dutch inscription on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In June 2018, the Netherlands was selected to be a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Intangible Heritage, for a period of four years.
In 2005, UNESCO introduced the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which is a legally-binding international agreement that ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own. The convention was ratified by the Netherlands in 2010. The Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science are responsible for implementing and monitoring this convention.
The Netherlands currently has 16 registrations in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, for example the The Diary of Anne Frank, the VOC/WIC archives and the 1944 documentary on the Dutch transit camp Westerbork. The Netherlands is also part of the trans-national organisation the Dutch Language Union (see chapters 2.5.4 and 4.1.8) and the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA).