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Intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights

The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Karima Bennoune, is inviting all relevant stakeholders to contribute to a consultation on the intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights, in particular cultural rights.

In her first report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/59) and building on the report of devoted to the right to enjoy and access cultural heritage (A/HRC/17/38), the Special Rapporteur presented her initial observations about the intentional destruction of cultural heritage and indicated her intention to study this issue more in depth for her upcoming report to the General Assembly. This decision was welcomed by a cross-regional statement made to the Council in March 2016 by an unprecedented coalition of 145 States. The statement condemned intentional destruction of cultural heritage and called for identification of best practices for its prevention, and for “raising awareness on the mutually reinforcing relation between the protection of cultural heritage and human rights and on the risks faced by defenders of cultural heritage.”

The consultation aims to assess the intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights and its impact on the exercise of the rights to enjoy and access cultural heritage, to access, contribute to and enjoy the arts and to participate in cultural life. To this purpose, all States, United Nations agencies, academics and civil society organizations are invited to send their contributions.

Contributions would particularly be appreciated on the following issues:

  • What is the impact of the intentional destruction of cultural heritage on the enjoyment of human rights, and particularly, on cultural rights? What is the impact of destruction of tangible cultural heritage on intangible cultural heritage, on cultural practices and beliefs, and on the right of concerned persons to participate in cultural life?
  • What are examples of different situations illustrating the above (situations of armed / non armed conflict or international / internal conflict; destructions by States / Non-States actors; geographical or other diversity, etc.)?
  • What are examples of good practices, especially with regard to prevention and protection against destruction, as well as repatriation and reconstruction measures of cultural heritage, including through human and cultural rights education and awareness?
  • What strategies are in place to protect cultural heritage defenders at risk? Under which circumstances can they be considered as cultural rights defenders?

Please send submissions electronically no later than 10 June 2016 to srculturalrights@ohchr.org, using the email title: “Submission to study on intentional destruction of cultural heritage”. Kindly limit your responses to 2,500 words and attach annexes where necessary. Please also indicate if you have any objections with regard to your reply being posted on the OHCHR website.

Questions or requirement for clarifications concerning this request can be address to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (srculturalrights@ohchr.org).