Following the UN General Assembly resolution of March 2nd the UNESCO reaffirms its commitment to the “sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and it demands that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine.” Consistent with its mandate, UNESCO demands the immediate cessation of attacks on civilian facilities, such as schools, universities, memorial sites, cultural and communication infrastructures, and deplores civilian casualties, including students, teachers, artists, scientists and journalists. These include women and children, girls especially, disproportionately impacted by the conflict and displacement. The UNESCO Executive Board will hold a Special Session on 15 March to examine the impact and consequences of the current situation in Ukraine in all aspects of UNESCO’s mandate.
The president of the ITI, Mohammed Saif Al-Afkham and Tobias Biancone, Director General, have published a Statement for Peace and Constructive Dialoge on March 4th. The statement refers to the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution: “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed. Since its inception, ITI has followed this tenet of UNESCO, and uses education and culture to inform, inspire and engage people everywhere to foster understanding and respect for each other…. ITI will never punish or exclude members based on the decisions of their government. Our purpose is to overcome divisions, and to keep the lines of communication wide open between all peoples of the world. We stand for peace and freedom!!!”
With new expectations for media, culture, and presence in a hyperconnected world, the civic stakes of the performing arts are shifting. In a series of convenings, futureStage, an international, interdisciplinary team of scholars and experts at MetaLab (Harvard University) have compared and analyzed best practices and key ideas across a variety of areas. Published October 2021, MetaLab’s futureStage Manifesto offers a condensed vision of performance as a human right, intimately entangled with all the stages on which contemporary life is performed, and offering global society new skills, sensibilities, and points of view.
Since 2012, the United Nations has taken an interdisciplinary approach to reflection and action on the profound links between religions and human rights through the Faith for Rights Network. 18 commitments were articulated in the 2017 Beirut Declaration to strengthen the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief under international law. The most recent publication is the #Faith4Rights toolkit, which builds on a wealth of similar tools from several UN agencies. It also describes artistic expressions as learning tools for democracy and human rights and provides links to relevant resources.
“Two out of every three people in the world – 4.9 billion people – are living in countries that are highly restricted or undergoing a free expression crisis, more than at any time in the last decade.”: ARTICLE 19 has published its Global Expression Report 2021 (GxR21). The report looks at the continued targeting of journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and political activists around the world, as well as the impact of COVID-19-linked restrictions on citizens everywhere.
The eroding situation in Afghanistan poses a threat to the lives of our colleagues in Afghanistan. Performing artists from Afghanistan were active in building up a society based on democracy, freedom, openness, human and cultural rights in their country. These are not the values of the Taliban, so their lives are now at risk. ITI applies to democratic governments to take immediate action to save Afghanistan’s performing artists and culture activists, especially women and ethnic and religious minorities. Thousands are already sought, have moved into hiding and may soon take the perilous step of looking for a way over land borders to Pakistan or Usbekistan.