Category Archives: Publication

On Freedom of Artistic Expression and Cultural Relativism

The German Institute for Foreign Relations (ifa) has published a paper that examines two major challenges to the defence of artistic freedoms: the insufficient discussion of “artistic freedom” in international legal fora and the insufficient use of the potential of international law to defend and promote artists’ rights. At its core, the input asks how the diverse cultural norms, traditions, and values in states should be reconciled with the universal imperative to protect artists’ rights? 

 

Andra Matei and Sanchit Saluja: The “Right to Freedom of Artistic Expression” and Cultural Relativism.  International Law Perspectives (PDF, eng)

Artistic Freedom in the Global Landscape

In its May 2023 report on ‘Defending Creative Voices: Artists in Emergencies, Learning from the Safety of Journalists’, UNESCO called for more protection for artists under attack.

The new study from ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen “The Fragile Triangle of Artistic Freedom: A Study of the Documentation and Monitoring of Artistic Freedom in the Global Landscape” by Ole Reitov and Sara Whyatt explores the current status of artistic freedom monitoring and documentation systems. It identifies gaps in the promotion and protection of artistic freedom, including what is needed to address them, and points to a number of positive developments as well as negative trends.  Unlike media protection organisations, which receive verified documentation on attacks on media professionals from professional unions as well as individuals from all over the world, the CSOs documenting artistic freedom violations rarely receive any information from organisations representing artists. Added to this are the ‘under-the-radar’ examples of self-censorship by artists, curators, librarians, galleries, film distributors and producers, and others working across the cultural value chain.

Download the full study

 

2023 Annual Report on Humans Rights in Iran

The Annual Report, issued by the Human Rights Activists in Iran network (HRAI), counts in the field of cultural rights violations a 114% increase in citizen arrests compared to the previous year.  17 reports have been recorded. They included the arrest of 15 individuals and 10 cases of employment prohibition. 4 individuals were sentenced to 24 months of suspended imprisonment, with 12 months of these sentences issued by appellate courts. The highest number of violations in this category occurred in August and September.

In the category of freedom of thought and expression, reports of citizen arrests increased by 86%, and the issuance of prison sentences by the judiciary increased by 68% compared to the previous year.

The report has grown to 20 chapters on different fields of human rights, such as ethnic and religious rights, education, work and trade unions, children, women, gender, and sexual minorities. Additionally, the cases are arranged by months and regions.

Source: HRANA

Supporting Artists on the Frontline

In March 2023, at the Salzburg Global Seminar session “On the Front Lines: Artists at Risk, Artists who Risk”, a global assembly of fifty artists, activists, and representatives from supporting organizations spanning forty countries united to create the Salzburg Statement on Supporting Artists on the Front Line. The session explored the intersection of contemporary art, activism, politics, law, research, technology, ethics and organizing.  The final statement urges institutions shaping social and cultural policies to create an enabling, human rights-based environment that supports artists at risk.
By the end of 2025, policymakers, funders, and international organizations are called upon to:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive study of factors inhibiting creative workers’ artistic freedom and cultural rights.
  2. Produce a detailed report on best practices for identifying, evaluating, and addressing the needs of creative workers at risk.
  3. Establish legal frameworks for Emergency Artistic Freedom visas, ensuring entry and work authorizations for creative workers at risk.
  4. Allocate resources to support the relocation and professional development of at-risk creative workers.
  5. Integrate artistic and cultural rights into international policy work, prioritizing them in state and human rights NGO agendas.
  6. Recognize artists as essential partners in addressing sustainable development, democracy, and innovation, prioritizing their collective expression and activities in the human rights field.

Sources:  Meeting report (PDF), The Salzburg Statement (PDF)

What Do Cultural Rights Have to Do With Sports?

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights,  Alexandra Xanthaki, has published a series of 14 Questions & Answers, following an interaction with the International Olympic Committee after the recommendation of the IOC Executive Board, on 28 February 2022, to exclude all Russian and Belarusian athletes from sports events.

The concern of the Special Rapporteur on the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes includes a “wider concern of on-going unnecessary exclusions of Russian and Belarusian people from participating in cultural life. Artists too have been excluded from cultural events, festivals and other platforms based on their nationality and their artistic freedom tightened.”

The Q&As can be downloaded here and are published on the website of the mandate.

 

UN HCR Special Report on Cultural Rights and Migration

In her thematic report the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Alexandra Xanthaki, underlines the rights of migrants to have access to and effectively participate in all aspects of cultural lives, both of the host State and their own cultures: “Migration  enables individuals, both migrants and the host population, to reevaluate their cultural frameworks and be positively influenced by other ideas, values and practices. In that process, States must be aware of the vulnerabilities of migrants and take measures to enable them to enjoy their cultural rights, irrespective of their status.”

The report has been introduced in February 2023 and is now available in all 5 UN languages.