UNESCO - Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1420 (1999)

Ministers' Deputies
Notes on the Agenda

CM/Notes/731/7.2 (Restricted) 24 November 2000

731 Meeting, 29 November 2000
7 Education, culture

7.2 UNESCO - Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1420 (1999)
Document prepared by the Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport and Youth (GR-C)

Reference documents
GR-C(2000)24 rev. and 29

CM(2000)1 and 93


The Deputies are invited to adopt a reply to the above mentioned Recommendation.


Recommendation 1420 (1999) on UNESCO was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on 21 September 1999, at its 4th 1999 part-session.


The Deputies had a preliminary consideration of the text at their 682nd meeting (6 October 1999) at which they decided to seek opinions of the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) and the Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) on this Recommendation, which appear in CM(2000)93 and CM(2000)1 respectively.  They are also appended to the presented draft reply, which was approved by the GR-C at its meeting on 26 October 2000.






731st meeting – 29 November 2000



Item 7.2


UNESCO – Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1420 (1999)

(GR-C(2000)24 rev. and 29, CM(2000)1 and 93)





The Deputies adopted the following reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1420 (1999):


“1.        The Committee of Ministers has examined with interest the Parliamentary Assembly's Recommendation 1420(1999) on UNESCO.


2.         The Committee of Ministers wishes to point out that co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNESCO, based on the 1952 exchange of letters, has, over the years, undergone fruitful and tangible development often going beyond the formal framework originally laid down.


3.         UNESCO attends as an observer the meetings of many Council of Europe project groups and expert committees in such varied fields as culture, higher education, education, heritage and the media, making a valuable contribution to their work.  The two secretariats also co-operate, often informally through the exchange of information or attendance at each other's meetings or symposia on subjects of common interest.  Close co-operation has developed between the Council of Europe's Youth sector and UNESCO's Youth Unit.


4.         An important successful joint project was the drafting of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (Lisbon Recognition Convention), which is implemented through a jointly piloted work programme.


5.         Another example of this co-operation is the fact that since the enlargement of the Council of Europe and the advent of the Council of Europe's Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education as a genuinely pan-European forum, UNESCO no longer convenes its own ministerial meetings for the “Europe” region, but continues to be involved in preparations for the Standing Conference.


6.         On the ground, the Council of Europe works closely with UNESCO on school and higher education reform in Bosnia-and-Herzegovina and could take greater advantage of UNESCO help in other areas, such as  cultural heritage in the framework of its activities in South East Europe.  In Kosovo joint activities are either under way (in the library and archives field) or at an advanced planning stage in the educational field.


7.         The Committee of Ministers fully appreciates the value of co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNESCO, in that it represents for the Council of Europe an important channel to work carried out elsewhere in the world, whilst the Council of Europe's experience can be helpful to UNESCO in its work in other regions.


8.         With this in mind, valuable co-operation might be established between the two organisations in connection with International Decade (2001-2010) of the Culture of Peace, to which the Council of Europe will endeavour to contribute in particular through the new project of the Higher Education and Research Committee (CC-HER) on the University as a Site of Citizenship.  Furthermore, UNESCO is also contributing to the European Year of Languages 2001, which the Council of Europe is organising jointly with the European Union.


9.         Globalisation and technological developments affect, in a profound manner, many areas of competence of the Council of Europe and UNESCO in the cultural arena.  When developing their respective responses to those developments, appropriate co-operation between the two Organisations can create important synergy.  In this context also, the Committee of Ministers especially welcomes the on-going co-operation concerning the promotion of cultural diversity. 


In the field of Cultural Policy both competent departments co-operate very closely and UNESCO takes advantage of the experience of the Council of Europe national reviews programme in the development of its own plan to be implemented in non-European countries.  Co-operation is also foreseen in the New Technologies area, notably in the framework of the project “Teaching and learning in the communication society.”


10.       The Committee of Ministers notes that the 1952 exchange of letters which forms the basis for co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNESCO has enabled positive and fruitful co-operation to be developed between the two organisations on the basis of the priorities of each.  However, it has no objection to a revision of this agreement being envisaged if either side considers it desirable.


11.       The Committee of Ministers will inform the Assembly of the outcome of the exploratory contacts and seek its assistance, should it envisage the establishment of a body for dialogue with UNESCO and instructed the Chair of its Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport and Youth to prepare a report on relations between the Council of Europe and UNESCO.”







1.         The CDCC welcomes Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1420 (1999) on UNESCO and finds it encouraging to see the importance of such cooperation between intergovernmental organisations explicitly recognised at political level.


2.         The CDCC has for a number of years been carrying out a very close co-operation with UNESCO, in particular through its Higher Education and Research and Education Committees.


3.         Some of the CC-HER activities with UNESCO extend beyond traditional cooperation to the running of a joint programme.  The Council of Europe and UNESCO have elaborated a joint Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (the Lisbon Recognition Convention, adopted in April 1997 and in force from February 1999).  The two Organisations are now carrying out a joint programme for the implementation of this Convention, through a joint Secretariat for the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee and the ENIC Network[1].  This is one of the rare examples known to the CDCC of a truly joint work programme by two international organisations.


4.         Research policy is a part of the CC-HER mandate, and the Committee has elaborated a Recommendation on the research mission of the university, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 30 March 2000 as Recommendation R (2000) 8.  However, it seems difficult to fully develop a research policy role for the CC-HER within the confines of its present staff and programme resources.  The CC-HER would see a closer cooperation with UNESCO as a possibility to develop its research policy activities.


5.         Co-operation with UNESCO in South East Europe is particularly prominent in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the field of higher education, including the establishment of a Higher Education Council which is intended to include all higher education institutions in the country.  The CDCC will endeavour to include UNESCO more strongly in other parts of its activities in South East Europe.  In Kosovo, UNESCO, as  part of the UN system, could play a particularly useful role in the assistance the Council of Europe and the CRE (Association of European Universities) have offered in establishing an inclusive higher education system under UNMIK auspices.

6.         Co-operation with UNESCO in the area of education for citizenship has been ongoing ever since the “Education for Democratic Citizenship” project was set up under the Education Committee's programme of work.  UNESCO participates in the project group as well as all the conferences and hearings organised in this context.


7.         As regards secondary education, UNESCO has been closely involved in the “A secondary education for Europe” project and, more recently, was represented at the symposium on “Information technologies in schools: reasons and strategies for investment”. The Council of Europe also works together with UNESCO in the group on the reform of secondary education set up in June 1999 by UNESCO's Division for the Renovation of Secondary and Vocational Education.


8.         UNESCO was invited to participate in the European co-ordination group responsible for preparing the European Year of Languages (2001) and takes an active part in meetings of the group.


9.         Following the enlargement of the CDCC's membership, UNESCO no longer holds ministerial conferences of its “Europe” region given that it is now more closely involved in preparations for the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe.


10.       The CDCC takes note of the Parliamentary Assembly's assessment concerning the co-operation carried out by the two Organisations on the occasion of the Stockholm Conference (World Report on Culture), and calls for further cooperation with UNESCO in the field of culture in general, and cultural policy in particular, including book policy. It underlines the importance of giving particular attention to cultural diversity and the role of culture in conflict prevention.


11.       The CDCC underlines the importance of stepping up cooperation between UNESCO and the Council of Europe in the field of cultural heritage, in particular through its Cultural Heritage Committee. It believes that this co-operation should concern mainly the protection of cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the other regions of South-East Europe, the implementation of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), landscapes and the pooling of information on European heritage policies.


12.       The CDCC also welcomes the reference to the UNESCO International Year (2000) and Decade (2001 – 2010) of the Culture of Peace (paragraph 14.ii).  The CDCC will seek to contribute to these activities, in particular through the new activity of the CC-HER on the University as a Site of Citizenship. 


13.       As pointed out in paragraph 2 of the Recommendation, the Council of Europe and the Europe Region of UNESCO now cover approximately the same area, especially if the permanent observers to the Council of Europe and the non-member states party to the European Cultural Convention are included.  This underlines the importance of the two organisations trying to establish joint action in as many areas as possible, to the benefit of both individual member states and the two Organisations.  To the Council of Europe, UNESCO also represents an important channel to valuable work carried out in other regions of the world, while to UNESCO, the experience of the Council of Europe is of relevance to its activities in other regions.


14.       In spite of much good will by representatives of both Organisations, cooperation is nonetheless hampered by differences in organisational culture and rules.  The elaboration of a new agreement of cooperation to replace the current agreement dating from 1952 is therefore essential, and the CDCC supports the suggestions made in paragraphs 2 and 14.1 of the Recommendation. The new agreement must commit both Organisations to showing considerable flexibility with regard to their own rules and regulations in order to establish efficient joint action. 


15.       On the basis of the experience of the CC-HER with a joint work programme with UNESCO in one specific area, the CDCC would very willingly contribute to the elaboration of a new agreement.


16.       The CDCC also supports the proposal made in paragraph 14.iii for a closer cooperation at national level between Council of Europe governmental experts and the National Commissions for UNESCO.  It considers the UNESCO National Commissions as very valuable bodies at national level and would welcome an opportunity for the Council to make use of the Commissions as well as to contribute to their activities.  It is unrealistic for the Council to try to establish parallel bodies for its own purposes, and this would also not be efficient use of scarce resources.  However, where Council of Europe information centres have been established, a closer cooperation between these and the UNESCO National Commissions may be considered.




Opinion on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1420 (1999)



The CDMM has examined the Parliamentary Assembly's Recommendation with interest and, fundamentally, understands the Assembly' s concern to promote co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNESCO.  This being so, the CDMM notes that some of the questions covered in the Recommendation fall outside its remit and are the responsibility of other intergovernmental committees of the Council of Europe.  The CDMM therefore wishes to limit its comments to points relating to the Council of Europe's activities in the media sphere, and in particular paragraph 14 (iv) of the Recommendation.


On substance, the CDMM wishes to draw attention to the fact that UNESCO already attends, as an observer, meetings of a number of committees set up under the CDMM, namely the Group of Specialists on media pluralism (MM-S-PL), the Group of Specialists on new communications technologies (MM-S-NT), and the Group of Specialists on the protection of rights holders in the media field (MM-S-PR), which deals with the intellectual property issues referred to in paragraph 14 (iv) of the Assembly Recommendation.


UNESCO's participation in the work of these committees provides an opportunity for exchanging information on initiatives already undertaken or planned within the Council of Europe or UNESCO in the fields covered by the committees.  In this way, duplication of effort may also be avoided.


In addition to attending meetings of these committees, on several occasions in the past UNESCO has been invited to take part in hearings or submit written contributions on questions being discussed in bodies set up under the CDMM and has thus had an opportunity both to present its work and to express its opinions.


Co-ordination and co-operation between the CDMM and UNESCO are not confined to the aforementioned committees.  There is also co-ordination and co-operation at the level of their Secretariats.  For example, the CDMM Secretariat took part in a meeting of experts organised by UNESCO on cyberspace law (September 1998, Monte Carlo) as well as a UNESCO conference on child pornography and the Internet which took place in January 1999 in Paris.  At both of these events, the participants learnt of the work being carried out by the CDMM in the field of new communications technologies.  In return, the report of the Monte Carlo meeting was made available to the MM-S-NT, the committee under the CDMM responsible for matters covered in the report, so that it could take account of the report in its activities.


The CDMM feels that the flexible co-operation developed so far with UNESCO in the area for which it is responsible provides an appropriate and sufficient framework, which, if both sides are in favour of it, could serve as a basis for undertaking joint measures.


With regard to the question of public access to information, the CDMM would like to point out that this issue is now addressed at the intergovernmental level by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), through its Group of Specialists on access to official information (DH-S-AC).  If the Committee of Ministers considers it appropriate, the possibility of UNESCO's participation in this work would therefore have to be submitted to the CDDH.

[1] European Network of National Information Centres on academic recognition and mobility, established in 1994 by a merger of the previously separate networks of the Council of Europe and UNESCO.  The ENIC network co-operates very closely with the NARIC Network of the European Union, inter alia through joint annual meetings and joint meetings of the ENIC Bureau and the NARIC Advisory Board.




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