Freemuse delivers recommendations at UN Human Rights Council session

Support artists victimized by terror and develop early cultural warning system

Freemuse on Monday 6 March 2017 delivered an oral statement at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council on the negative effects of terror on art and cultural industries.

Two of the main messages to the Human rights council were that:

  1. The international donor community should establish specific support programmes for artists and cultural industries victimized by terror; and
  2. The international community should develop an early cultural warning system as cultural expressions are among the first targets of terrorism and fundamentalism.

In the statement, Freemuse reminded UN members that:

State and non-state fundamentalism and extremism has affected and damaged cultural expressions on several continents for hundreds of years. Christian missionaries destroyed several cultural expressions during the times of colonialism. In recent times, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa ordering fundamentalists to kill author Salman Rushdie. This state-supported call to terror has since inspired current fundamentalist non-state actors to attack artists and cultural expressions. Frequently women are targeted first.

The interactive dialogue was originally planned for 3 March 2017, but the session was postponed to 6 March, thus the oral statement was presented on behalf of Freemuse by Mr. Michael De Dora, Director of Government Affairs and Main Representative to the United Nations for the Center for Inquiry.


Read the full statement here:

ARTISTIC FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION – ORAL STATEMENT BY FREEMUSE
34th session of the Human Rights Council (27 February – 24 March 2017)
ITEM 3 – Interactive Dialogue Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights


For 20 years Freemuse, has defended the right to artistic freedom of expression. In 2016, Freemuse documented a record number of attacks on art and artists in 78 countries.

State and non-state fundamentalism and extremism has affected and damaged cultural expressions on several continents for hundreds of years.

Christian missionaries destroyed several cultural expressions during the times of colonialism. In recent times, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa ordering fundamentalists to kill author Salman Rushdie.

This state-supported call to terror has since inspired current fundamentalist non-state actors to attack artists and cultural expressions. Frequently women are targeted first.

The effects are devastating; we therefore welcome and support the findings of the Special Rapporteur. Freemuse would like to make the following five recommendations:

  1. States should respect, protect and fulfil cultural rights, including the right to freedom of artistic expressions and the right to take part in cultural life without discrimination.
  2. States should ensure that non-State actors attacking the living arts are prosecuted and convicted according to international norms.
  3. States should not abuse terror legislation to target artistic freedom of expression.
  4. The international donor community should establish specific support programmes for artists and cultural industries victimized by terror. This is particularly urgent in Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria.
  5. The international community should develop an early cultural warning system as cultural expressions are among the first targets of terrorism and fundamentalism.



» Watch the oral statement here

» Read the full Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights report here


More from Freemuse

» 8 February 2017: Art Under Threat in 2016: Threats and attacks from non-state actors

» 26 October 2016: Freemuse report on the effects of terror on arts and culture

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