This year’s second report of the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki, focuses on “Development and cultural rights: the international governance”. Key findings include the rejection by some organisations of their responsibility to respect cultural rights, the lack of understanding of their scope and how they relate to the work of the organisations, and the predominance of economic development or other interests. Recognition of the cultural dimension, and in particular cultural rights, of sustainable development remains a challenge. Major international development organisations such as the IMF, WIPO, World Bank, WTO, UNESCO and UNHCR have not yet developed clear processes to mitigate and prevent violations of cultural rights and to promote their realisation in development.
The Special Rapporteur will be presenting her reports to UN General Assembly this week, on Wednesday 18 October, 4 pm, New York time (10 pm CET).
After several moments of absence, the Morality Police is back on the streets in Iran. Sunday, July 16 security forces attacked the home of the actor and woman rights defender Mohammad Sadeghi and arrested him because he posted a video expressing his anger over the detention of yet another woman in morality police hands due to her inappropriate hijab. Sadeghi shared his arresting live on Instagram.
The actor Mehdi Etemad Saeed was arrested by security forces on June 9, 2023, in Tehran and is still detained in legal ambiguity. He was reportedly denied access to legal representation and has been charged with “promoting impurity and indecency.” Etemad Saeed’s whereabouts are still unknown.
In June, a two-day symposium on theatre work in war and conflict regions took place in Wroclaw (Poland). Participants from Palestine, Israel, Syria and Sri Lanka took part via video conference, and other projects were presented directly on site at the Grotowski Institute, which organised the event together with the ITI Theatre in Conflict Zones Network. Thomas Engel took part in the event as a representative of the ITI Artist Rights Committee, where above all the possibilities for actively supporting and making visible theatre in resistance were discussed. The results of the discussions serve as a basis for action for further initiatives by the institutions involved.
The United States of America had officially notified the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, of its decision to rejoin UNESCO in July 2023, on the basis of a concrete financing plan. The US had suspended its financial contribution in 2011 due to domestic legislation, before notifying UNESCO of its decision to legally withdraw from the organisation in 2017, during the first year of the Trump presidency.
In his letter the U.S. Department of State welcomed the way in which UNESCO had addressed in recent years emerging challenges, modernized its management, and reduced political tensions. The return of the United States was made possible by the agreement reached by Congress in December 2022 authorizing financial contributions to UNESCO. The proposed financing plan must now be submitted to the General Conference of UNESCO Member States for their approval. Some Member States have requested that an extraordinary session be held soon so a decision can be made.
Wile the UNHCR is investigating Iran’s killing of hundreds of peaceful protesters, the Islamic Republic of Iran has just been appointed Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council 2023 Social Forum, to be held on November 2 and 3. This year’s theme is the contribution of science, technology and innovation to the promotion of human rights, including in the context of post-pandemic.
UN Watch hast launched a Petition to UN Secretary General Antònio Guterres. You can sign here.