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Brazil: first mission by a UN Independent Expert on cultural rights

GENEVA (4 November 2010) – UN Independent Expert Farida Shaheed will visit Brazil from 8 to 19 November 2010, in what will be the first official mission ever by an expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to report on the field of cultural rights, one of the latest areas earmarked for special monitoring by the UN body.

“Brazil, as the largest and most populous country in South America with a vast cultural diversity presents a great opportunity for my mandate to undertake its first fact-finding mission,” said Ms. Shaheed, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government.

The Human Rights Council established the new mandate of Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights in 2009 to identify best practices and obstacles to the implementation of cultural rights, and fostering the adoption of measures aimed at their promotion and protection.

“The right to cultural life and cultural development is an essential and inherent right of all individuals and peoples, including the right not to be forced into participation,” Ms. Shaheed stressed.

“It’s not just about access to works of art and the humanities, but protecting the acquisition of knowledge, and the need to communicate, as well” she said. “Cultural rights also imply providing members of cultural communities who differ from dominant groups with the avenues and means to express their own cultural viewpoints to enrich the shaping of cultural and social developments, while preserving in parallel those elements of their culture that they desire to keep.”

During her mission to Brazil, the expert will meet with representatives of several Governmental institutions, including senior officials in the areas of culture, education, science and technology, human rights, women issues, racial equality, indigenous issues and foreign affairs. She will also meet with academics, grass roots leaders, representatives from afro-descents and indigenous movements. Ms. Shaheed will visit Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo (State of Sao Paulo), Dourados and Campo Grande (State of Mato Grosso do Sul) and Salvador (State of Bahia).

Independent Expert will hold a press conference in Brasilia at Auditório IBICT- SAUS Quadra 05, Bl. H, Lote 06, Ed. IBICT/UNESCO - Sobreloja - Brasília on November 19 from 11:00 a.m.

Farida Shaheed took up her functions as Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights on 1 August 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.

Lear more about the mandate and work of the Independent Expert: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/cultural_rights/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Valéria Schilling (Tel: +55 21 2253 2211 / e-mail: valeria.schilling@unic.org) or write to Mireya Maritza Peña Guzmán (mpena@ohchr.org and ieculturalrights@ohchr.org)