Karima Bennoune, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, has delivered her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council on March 2nd.
The facts and findings on the negative effects of the pandemic are pointing towards a “potential global cultural catastrophe … with severe, long-lasting consequences for cultural rights and other human rights.” At the moment, when culture was increasing valued as coping mechanism, means of building resilience, artists and cultural workers experienced increasing difficulties to continue their work. The office of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner developed a special web site for cultural rights in global crises with the recent reports and other relevant events and information.
Freemuse has published its annual report on worldwide oppression of artists and freedom of artistic expression. In 2020, 26% of all documented restrictions of artistic freedom – 978 cases in 89 countries and online – took place in Europe, followed by 22% in North and South America, 19% in the Middle East and North Africa, 15% in Asia and Pacific, 9% in Africa and 9% Online. 17 artists were killed, 82 were imprisoned and 133 detained. “This year’s report illustrates increasing misuses of blasphemy, anti-terrorism legislation, and COVID-19 measures as pretexts, to silence dissident voices of artists and artworks” commented Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed some of the greatest threats to artistic freedom and cultural rights in recent memory. On February 3rd, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America, together with UNs Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights Karima Bennoune, are launching the Safety Guide for Artists. The guide aimes to help artists navigate and overcome risks and better understand their work within the framework of human rights defense. The launch features also a panel discussion with photojournalist, teacher and activist Shahidul Alam, director of Belarus Free Theatre Natalia Koliada, and director of Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Culture Resource) Helena Nassif. The conversation will draw upon the 2020 report of the Special Rapporteur and explore how art can be levied in the fight for human rights and how artists can be better protected against human rights violations.
The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, has published her annual report , which relates for the first time cultural rights with climate change. The report will be presented Thursday, 22 October, tentatively at 15:00, New York time. The presentation will be broadcasted via UN webtv. One day before, on 21 October, between 13:15 – 14:45 EDT Karima Bennoune will hold a a webinar addressing the theme of her report, entitled “Climate change and cultural extinction: A Human Rights Crisis”.
Benoune states in her introduction: “The mandate on cultural rights was established to protect not culture and cultural heritage per se, but rather the conditions allowing all people, without discrimination, to access, participate in and contribute to cultural life through a process of continuous development. These conditions are greatly jeopardized by the climate emergency.”
All relevant actors are requested to develop “a human rights-based global action plan to save the cultures of humanity and protect cultural rights from the climate emergency”. Engagement is needed in capacity-building on environmental issues for cultural rights defenders and on cultural rights issues for environmental human rights defenders and others. Further joint initiatives and advocacy campaigns should bring these sectors together.
The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and promotion and protection of the freedom of opinion and expression was given to the Human Rights Council at the UN General Assembly on 15 June – 3 July 2020.
The report starts with an explanation of the legal framework applicable to artistic freedom of expression and then addresses the ways in which States and other actors often fail in their obligations or responsibilities in this field. A main result is, that states are restricting repressions increasingly in the form of art. For online content filtering mechanisms, private companies should also adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.