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Report on access to cultural heritage as a human right

21 March 2011
Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
To the Human Rights Council at its 17th session, May-June 2011


The report investigates the extent to which the right of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage forms part of international human rights law. Stressing the need for a human rights-based approach to cultural heritage matters, the independent expert explores the concept of cultural heritage from the perspective of human rights and presents a non-exhaustive list of human rights issues related to cultural heritage.

A compilation of references in international law on the rights of individuals and communities in relation to cultural heritage and a summary of information received regarding national initiatives are included. The report further contains an analysis of the right of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage, in particular regarding its normative content, related State obligations and possible limitations. The report's final section contains conclusions and recommendations.

Learn more about the rights related to cultural heritage on the page dedicated to this issue.


To prepare that report and to initiate a constructive dialogue with all relevant stakeholders on the recognition, access and protection of cultural heritage, the Special Rapporteur widely disseminated the questionnaire below.

Read the questionnaire (Word): English | French | Spanish

The mandate holder also held a public consultation in Geneva on 10 February 2011. Read the Note Verbale (PDF): English

Inputs received

Member states

  1. Austria | Note Verbal
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Canada | Note Verbal | Appendix 1 | Appendix 2
  4. Croatia
  5. Cuba
  6. Cyprus | Appendix 1
  7. Dominican Republic
  8. Georgia | Note Verbal | Appendix 1
  9. Germany
  10. Greece | Note Verbal
  11. Italy
  12. Japan | Appendix 1 | Appendix 2
  13. Kazakhstan
  14. Malaysia
  15. Mauritius
  16. Monaco
  17. Morocco
  18. Nepal
  19. Poland
  20. Portugal
  21. Slovakia
  22. Spain | Note Verbal | Appendix 1
  23. Switzerland
  24. Syria
  25. Turkmenistan | Pictures 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
  26. United Kingdom
  27. Ukraine
  28. Uzbekistan
  29. Venezuela

Submissions received after the deadline

National Human Rights Institutions

  1. Defensoría del Pueblo Colombia
  2. Defensoría del Pueblo Ecuador | Appendix 1 | Appendix 2 | Appendix 3
  3. Ombudsman Kosovo | Appendix 1
  4. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de México
  5. Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua
  6. Defensoría del Pueblo Perú
  7. Provedor de Justiça Portugal | Note Verbal

Civil society stakeholders

  1. ATD quart monde
  2. Catedra UNESCO
  3. Council of Europe
  4. Dr. Oscar A. Forero
  5. IIMA and VIDES | Note Verbal
  6. International Campaign for Tibet
  7. International Steering Committee on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas Protected Areas      | Appendix 1
  8. World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA)
  9. Kirant Kamal
  10. Ministry od Endowments – Aqsa-UNISCO
  11. Partners for Law in Development – India
  12. UNESCO Etxea
  13. World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry | Appendix 1 | Appendix 2
  14. World Blind Union

Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights
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Contact Information

Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: +41 22 917 96 30
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06

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