The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recalls that, under Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress. This common heritage of values and norms is based on culture.
The concept of culture lies at the heart of a fundamental human concern. In its broadest sense, culture is considered as embodying all the distinctive, spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional characteristics of a society or social group. It encompasses not only arts and letters, but also lifestyles, fundamental human rights, value systems, traditions and beliefs.
Modern societies bring together people with different cultural traditions. It is, however, necessary to promote culture as the foundation for social cohesion. Where individuals are excluded from culture or cannot take part in cultural life, parallel societies will develop and individuals will be marginalised. It is the obligation of a democratic state to strive for cultural and social cohesion based on common values and norms.
Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 recognises the right of everyone to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share scientific advancements and its benefits. While the right to education is recognised under Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, the right of everyone to participate in cultural life is not sufficiently established by the Council of Europe.
The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers recognise the importance of culture for society and every individual and develop strategies to ensure that everyone has the possibility to take part actively in cultural life.