Bruges. Image: Wolfgang Staudt via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)
Belgium became the 23rd European country to ratify the FARO convention, which will come into force in the country in September. Belgium will now have a legal framework to ensure that the country’s approach to heritage is rooted in improving quality of life. The convention reminds us that it is people that give value to cultural heritage, not necessarily the objects themselves.
The treaty was first signed in Faro, Portugal in 2005, and has gradually been signed and ratified by Council of Europe members ever since. 5 countries on the Council have signed the convention but not ratified it, and a further 18 have yet to engage with it.
The convention has multiple layers, but focuses on how heritage can and should be beneficial to everyone in society. It encourages grass-roots initiatives and pushes for local communities to be at the core of heritage management. Countries that ratify the convention should reflect on how ethical, sustainable, and participatory their practices are. It is hoped that by using these core principles to manage heritage, it will encourage peace and a higher quality of life for everyone involved.