Ministers’ Deputies/Rapporteur Groups
GR-C
Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport, Youth
and Environment

GR-C(2010)CB1 5 February 20101
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Synopsis
Meeting on 2 February 2010

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1. The Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport, Youth and Environment (GR-C) met on
2 February 2010 with Ambassador Guido BELLATTI CECCOLI, Permanent Representative of San Marino, in the Chair. The Group considered the following items, having regard to the annotated agenda
(GR-C(2010)1). The agenda (GR-C(2010)OJ1) was adopted.

1. Exchange of views with the Director of ALECSO
(Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation)
DD(2010)30

2. Under this item, the GR-C held an exchange of views with Mr Mohamed El-Aziz Ben ACHOUR, Director General of ALECSO (Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation). Mr Achour briefly presented the structure and priorities of ALECSO, a specialised agency of the Arab States League, which is mainly concerned with enhancing and coordinating educational, cultural and heritage-related activities in the Arab world and with which the Council of Europe signed a co-operation agreement in 2005.

3. With regard to relations with the Council of Europe, Mr Achour stated that co-operation between the two organisations has to date been fruitful and constructive. It had been developed in particular with regard to educational activities. He pointed out that the expertise of the Council of Europe in the fields of education and culture has been particularly useful in supporting ALECSO’s work for the promotion of universal values of human rights. With a view to future co-operation, Mr Achour considered that the most constructive co-operation resulted when fewer but very specific and concrete projects were identified. In this respect, he expressed the wish that education remain a priority area of co-operation with the Council of Europe. Particular focus could be put on the training of educators, the teaching of human rights in civic education as well as in history lessons. He also mentioned the valuable role of the Graz Centre in this respect, with regard to language training of teachers. A second field which Mr Achour considered particularly lent itself to co-operation with the Council of Europe was that of heritage, including the link between cultural heritage and environmental or natural heritage. Finally, promoting intercultural dialogue, in particular through a wide dissemination of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue of the Council of Europe, which exists in Arabic, was highlighted as an obvious area for co-operation, as it falls within the competences of the two organisations.

4. Following discussions, the Chair thanked Mr Achour for his presence and the rich exchange of views, which had provided concrete indications for future and strengthened co-operation between the two organisations in pursuit of their common goals.

2. Council of Europe 2010 Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue – Preparation
GR-C(2009)21 and GR-C(2009)21 add

5. The Secretariat informed the Group of the state of progress with regard to preparations for the 2010 Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, to take place in Ohrid on 13 and 14 September 2010. In particular, work was underway, in close co-operation with Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs (DGHL) and the host country to determine the profile of experts to be invited, taking into due account the specificities of the media sector and the religious dimension. The Group was informed that a preparatory meeting would take place on 19 March 2010, following which a provisional list of participants and draft programme would be prepared. The Secretariat would keep the Group informed of further developments.

6. As food for thought, one delegation suggested a number of aspects which could be considered in the preparatory work for the programme in the coming weeks. Firstly, it was in favour of retaining the aspect of spontaneous discussions during the exchange. The co-existence of freedom of expression and opinion and of respect for religious beliefs or convictions, both fundamental values of the Organisation, was a particularly relevant issue which could be considered. Other suggestions included the place of religious symbols in public life, including the media and the media’s role with regard to stereotypes and prejudice – on the one hand the media can both contribute to creating stereotypes and prejudices but on the other can also be a crucial tool in combating these trends. The role of the media in promoting diversity of religions and convictions, including in a context of globalisation, as well as in fostering a culture of dialogue, understanding and tolerance with regard to social attitudes and in relations between different religions and religious institutions were also suggested as possible items for consideration. Finally, exploring the various positions and views of media representatives on these issues, in particular with regard to their responsibilities, was also signaled as an important element to explore.

3. “The future of the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (“North-South Centre”)” – Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1893 (2009) – Follow-up to be given
Parliamentary Assembly REC_1893, CM/Del/Dec(2009)1073/3.1, DD(2010)38, DD(2010)39, DD(2010)40

7. The Executive Director of the North-South Centre briefly outlined the background to the proposals contained in the Recommendation under consideration. He drew attention to the position of the Bureau of the North-South Centre Executive Council contained in document DD(2010)39. In particular, the Bureau welcomed the proposals to update the statutory resolution of the Centre, as this would bring the objectives and operation in line with the developments that have taken place since its creation 20 years ago. On the other hand however, the Bureau expressed its preference that membership of the Centre remain on a voluntary basis and therefore considered that the legal status of the Centre should not be altered. In this context, certain delegations considered that given that the discussions on the North-South Centre were taking place during the reform process, it was a good opportunity to make an in-depth analysis of the North-South Centre’s potential in serving the Organisation, inter alia as a platform for dialogue and for promoting its values in different parts of the world, particularly in the context of globalisation.

8. The GR-C examined the revised draft decisions contained in document DD(2010)40 which had been drafted on the basis of the Bureau’s position. The Group agreed to forward them to the Deputies, for adoption without further debate, with one amendment: to note that any possible revision of the statutory resolution would not have any financial implications on the Ordinary budget.

4. “Attitude to memorials exposed to different historical interpretations in Council of Europe member states” – Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1859 (2009) – Draft reply
Parliamentary Assembly REC_1859, CM/AS(2010)Rec1859 prov, DD(2010)46

9. Due to lack of time, this item was postponed to the next GR-C meeting.

5. “The need for regional cultural identity” – Congress Recommendation 250 (2008) and
“Intercultural cities” – Congress Recommendation 261 (2009) – Joint draft reply
Congress RECS 250 (2008) and 261 (2009), CM/Cong(2010)Rec250-261 prov

10. The GR-C considered the joint draft reply to the aforementioned recommendations as set out in document CM/Cong(2010)Rec250-261 prov, and agreed to transmit it to the Deputies for adoption without further debate at their 1077th meeting (24 February 2010).

6. “Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and for the prevention of crimes against humanity” – Proposals for a possible reorientation of the project
GR-C(2009)17 rev, DD(2009)516, DD(2009)565, DD(2009)636, DD(2010)4, DD(2010)10, DD(2010)29, DD(2010)35, DD(2010)47

11. The GR-C considered document GR-C(2009)17 rev, which had been prepared by the Secretariat in the light of discussions held at two informal meetings (10 November 2009 and 15 January 2010) and additional consultations with a number of delegations. The discussion mainly focused on the various points in paragraph 5 and the question of the follow-up to be given to the document.

12. In substance, with regard to paragraph 5, there was agreement on the wording of the first part concerning the victims of the Holocaust. However, the Group did not support the proposal by one delegation to refer to a specific definition of the Holocaust in the second part of paragraph 5. Lastly, with reference to the list of definitions of victims of the Holocaust agreed by international bodies, which had been submitted by the Secretariat for information (see document DD(2010)35), some delegations proposed that adjustments be made to the list. No conclusion was reached on the question of whether this information should be set out in an appendix or in a footnote. It should nevertheless be noted that there seemed to be more support for the option proposed in document GR-C(2009)17 rev, ie a footnote. On the whole, however, the delegations believed that the question of the definitions should be referred to the relevant experts. In this connection, the Director General of DGIV pointed out that, to date, the experts in charge of the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust project had worked on the basis of the various definitions agreed at international level. One delegation also recommended that paragraph 6 be amended so as to reflect the content of the informal consultations more accurately.

13. With regard to follow-up to the document and the orientations to be given to the Steering Committee for Education (CDED), several delegations pointed out that document GR-C(2009)17 rev was an information document which did not justify detailed negotiations. In this respect, one delegation reiterated its firm position that it could not agree to any additional amendments to the document made after the informal meeting on 15 January. Another delegation, referring to the discussion paper it had submitted proposing possible approaches for reorientation of the project, said it was unfortunate that the discussion in the Group had focused on the question of the definition of the victims of the Holocaust rather than on the educational and reorientation dimension. It hoped that all the contributions submitted by the delegations would be duly communicated to the CDED.

14. In the light of the debate, the Chair noted that the Group had been unable to finalise document GR-C(2009)17 rev and could not recommend that it be communicated to the Deputies for transmission to the CDED. He noted the Director General’s alternative proposal that the Secretariat inform the CDED, reflecting the views expressed by delegations. In view of the late hour, the Group ended its discussion at this point.

15. Further to the meeting, the Chair would point out that many delegations have contacted him asking him to clarify this point. He therefore proposes to resume the consultations needed to attempt to conclude the work on this issue, in order to provide the CDED with an overview of the views and concerns expressed, which would have first been brought to the attention of the Deputies.

7. Information item
Written communication by the Director General of DGIV / Co-ordinator for Intercultural Dialogue covering the period 8 December 2009 to 1 February 2010
DD(2010)5 (to be issued)

16. The Director General of DGIV and Co-ordinator for Intercultural Dialogue submitted a written communication on recent developments in her Directorate General’s field of activity for the period 8 December 2009 to 1 February 2010.

11. Any other business

17. None.

12. Date of the next meeting

18. The next meeting of the GR-C is scheduled for Tuesday 16 March 2010 at 10 a.m.

Note 1 This document was classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.


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