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First mission to Morocco by the UN Independent Expert on cultural rights

GENEVA (30 August 2011) – The United Nations Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, will launch her first official mission to Morocco from 5 to 16 September 2011, to assess efforts by the authorities to promote and protect cultural rights, and to identify best practices and obstacles to their realization.

“I will focus on issues linked to the enjoyment of cultural rights, starting with the right to participate in cultural life, and look at measures adopted to create an open cultural climate and to foster an intercultural understanding, including in the media,” said Ms. Shaheed, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government.

During her twelve-day mission, the Independent Expert will examine legislation and practices related to access to cultural heritage, cultural diversity and respect of cultural rights, including within the education system. She will also consider issues related to the cultural rights of minority groups and indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and will see how gender impacts such rights.

“This mission takes place shortly after Morocco has enacted a new Constitution which places greater emphasis on cultural rights and diversity and confers an official status to the language of the Amazigh ethnic group,” the human rights expert said. “One of my aims is to assess how the new Constitution facilitates the cultural rights of Morocco’s diverse population.”

Ms. Shaheed will meet Government officials and civil society representatives, in addition to academics, grass roots leaders, and representatives from indigenous peoples and minority groups.

The Independent Expert will host a press conference to share her preliminary conclusions and observations on the visit on Friday, 16 September 2011, with further details to follow.

Ms. Farida Shaheed took up her functions as Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights on 1 November 2009. She has worked for more than 25 years promoting and protecting cultural rights by fostering policies and projects designed in culturally sensitive ways to support the rights of marginalized sectors, including women, peasants, and religious and ethnic minorities. She has been the recipient of several national and international human rights awards, and is an experienced participant in negotiations at international, regional and national levels.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Independent Expert: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/CulturalRights/Pages/IECulturalRightsIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Morocco: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/MAIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Ms Leila Barakat, UNDP Communications Officer (Tel.: + 212 (0) 537 63 30 71 / email:
leila.barakat@undp.org) or write to ieculturalrights@ohchr.org.

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