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Documenting the Cultural Heritage
Council of Europe
  Getty Information Institute
Foreword - Council of Europe
In fulfillment of its aim of achieving a greater unity within member states in order to safeguard their common heritage and to facilitate economic and social progress, the Council of Europe has for more than 25 years pursued a vigorous programme of cultural co-operation and celebration. High-level political debate within the European Conference of Ministers has led to the adoption of a number of key texts and associated recommendations. In the field of cultural heritage these have been translated into practical programmes of technical consultancy, assistance, training, and raising of public awareness. Through its own experience and through being able to draw on an enormous resource of accumulated expertise within the member states, the Council of Europe is uniquely equipped "to help national, regional and local authorities to tackle complex issues of enhancing, managing, and preserving the cultural heritage in an integrated way."

To move from questions of principle to issues of practical application, it is essential to act within a framework of agreed guidelines and standards that are allowed to evolve through changing times and circumstances. Such a framework carries with it the authority achieved through consensus and enables individual countries and organisations to move forward on the basis of commonly agreed assumptions and conclusions, avoiding the need for the re-invention of solutions to settled questions. As the number of states that have acceded to the European Cultural Convention has grown to over 40, it has become more and more necessary not only to promote common values in the management and enhancement of the cultural heritage but also through cultural co-operation to provide the common mechanisms that allow us to preserve, celebrate, and enrich that heritage for the benefit of those who follow. Accurate documentation is fundamental to this task.

José María Ballester
Head of the Cultural Heritage Department
Council of Europe

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