UN study on the impact of advertising and marketing on cultural rights

The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, is launching a new study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights.


The study takes a close-up look at the effect of advertising and marketing practices on cultural diversity and human rights. According to a press release from the United Nations, Ms Shaheed will be looking at the effect of commercial sponsorship on academic and artistic freedoms as well as on the content of art museum exhibits, among other issues. Her report will be considered by the UN General Assembly in October 2014.

“One underlying problem”, the human rights expert said, “relates to the impact that advertising and marketing practices may have on cultural diversity and the right of people to choose their way of life.”

“The modification of our cultural and symbolic landscapes through billboards or screens, the increasing encroachment of advertising on our public space and the intrusion of advertising in schools and universities are among the concerns I intend to address in this report,” she explained.

Control over cultural expressions
Freemuse welcomes the report. During the ‘All That is Banned is Desired’ world conference on artistic freedom in 2012, the right to public space was discussed as well as the conflicts between sponsors and museums

“We have seen the conflicts over public space at Tahrir Square and many other places,” said Ole Reitov, Freemuse Director. We have also expressed our worries over the commercial grip on several festivals and exhibitions. In the end it is a question of control over the diversity of cultural expressions globally.

“Many ethical and human rights issues are at stake”, Ms Shaheed stressed: “I am particularly interested in the mechanisms that can ensure a variety of narratives and values in the public space and through mass media, beyond what is often referred to as ‘commercial culture’.”

The Special Rapporteur’s study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights will be made available online in September or October 2014, during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

» Read more: New issue in focus: the impact of advertising and marketing practices on the enjoyment of cultural rights

» Video: Public space and art clashes corporate censorship

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