local heritage/ Faro Convention

The Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, also called “Faro Convention” (2005), is a normative tool developed, ratified and implemented by the Council of Europe (CoE) in European space. Based on human rights and democracy principles, the Faro Convention opens the borders of a strict definition of cultural heritage. Indeed, the convention stresses on a larger understanding of heritage, European heritage and heritage communities involved into the process of local recognition using innovative terms and definitions, as follows:

  1. cultural heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time; […]” (article 2 (a));
  2. “a heritage community consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations” (article 2 (b));
  3. The common heritage of Europe consists of “[…] all forms of cultural heritage in Europe which together constitute a shared source of remembrance, understanding, identity, cohesion and creativity, […]” (article 3 (a)).

These definitions of heritage can be confronted to other international definitions, especially UNESCO conventions (1972, 2003) and be compared, as follows:

Norm, Programme

Year Organisation Category of Heritage Value Objective Ethics
World Heritage Conventions 1972 UNESCO Cultural Heritage (tangible) Union "culture-nature" (sites) inventory (list) Peace
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003 UNESCO Intangible Heritage Living expression of the tradition inventory (list) Diversity
"Faro" Convention 2005 Council of Europe all types of ressources Heritage for society Citizenship participation Democracy

 Figure 1: Conventions’ comparison developed by I. Brianso and Y. Girault (2014).


The Council of Europe promotes a logic of consensus in heritage issues, in the sense that local actors have to trigger collectively a process recognition regarding heritage items that should to be preserved. Then, people should proceed on the Faro principles that come from the convention within the heritage communities of the territories concerned. Therefore, there is no criterion on heritage values, like UNESCO standards, but a collective consensus of what constitutes heritage for society and heritage communities (NGOs, associations, etc.).

This local recognition fits with the cultural routes. Indeed, launched by the Council of Europe in 1987, the cultural routes aim to put into dialogue heritages of different European countries as a diversity of heritage, which should make sense for European people.


Conseil de l’Europe (2005).
Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society.

Conseil de l’Europe (1950).
Convention européenne des droits de l’homme.

Brianso, I. (2016).
La Convention de Faro en perspective : analyse éthique du patrimoine culturel pour la société au Kosovo. Alterstice, 5 (2), pp. 21‐32.

Brianso, I. et Girault, Y..
« Innovations et enjeux éthiques des politiques environnementales et patrimoniales : l’UNESCO et le conseil de l’Europe », Éthique publique [En ligne], vol. 16, n° 1 | 2014, mis en ligne le 15 août 2014, consulté le 08 octobre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ethiquepublique/1357 ; DOI : 10.4000/ethiquepublique.1357

Liévaux, P. (2009).
« La Convention de Faro, un outil original pour la construction et la gestion du patrimoine de l’Europe. » In : R. Palmer (dir.), Le patrimoine et au-delà (p. 49). Strasbourg: Conseil de l’Europe.

Zagato, L. (2013)
« The Notion of “Heritage Community” in the Council of Europe’s Faro Convention. Its Impact on the European Legal Framework » In: N. Adell, R. Bendix and C. Bortolotto (dir.), Between Imagined Communities of Practice. Göttingen University Press, Germany, pp. 141-168.