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Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


Purpose of the mandate

Cultural rights are fundamental for the respect of human dignity, in the diversity of its expressions. This mandate was created to:

  • Give greater visibility to cultural rights in the human rights system; and to
  • Foster a better understanding of the severity of their violations, and of the opportunity of their realisation for all.

Learn more about how the implementation of cultural rights is critical for sustainable peace, equality and development through the Issues in focus section.

About the mandate

In 2009 the Human Rights Council decided to establish, for a period of three years, a new special procedure entitled "independent expert in the field of cultural rights" through resolution 10/23.

This mandate was extended for a period of three years in 2012, through resolution 19/6; in 2015, through resolution 28/9, and in 2018, through resolution 37/12.

Learn more about the mandate

Current mandate holder

Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

Karima Bennoune was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2015. Ms. Bennoune grew up in Algeria and in the United States. She is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law, where she teaches human rights and international law. 

Read Karima Bennoune's full biography

Key documents

Cultural rights: tenth anniversary report

This report marks the tenth anniversary of the mandate on cultural rights (2019). It provides an overview of the work of her mandate since its creation in 2009 and recalls the inherent importance of those rights within the universal human rights framework. As the realization of these rights contribute to the implementation of other rights in the Universal Declaration of human rights and to achieving other critical goals such as sustainable development, peace and inclusion, the report also suggests strategies for advancing cultural rights during the next decade.

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español

The universality of human rights, cultural diversity and cultural rights

To marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2018), this report highlights the place of cultural rights in the universal, interdependent and interrelated system of human rights and examines the close interrelationship between universality and cultural diversity. In it, the Special Rapporteur recalls how cultural arguments and respect for diversity can never be used to justify violations of any and all human rights, and demonstrates how cultural diversity and cultural rights contribute to strengthening the universal framework of human rights.

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español

Latest thematic reports

COVID-19, cultures and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights surveys the negative impacts of COVID-19 on culture and cultural rights worldwide, and the positive potential of culture and cultural rights, and the right to science, to enhance rights-respecting solutions and build resilience. The report also contains relevant recommendations for action. View issue in focus page | View the report page | View the advanced edited version of the report.

Climate change, culture and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur addresses the cultural and cultural rights dimensions of the current climate emergency, which have too often been overlooked. She considers the negative impacts of climate change on human cultures and on the enjoyment of cultural rights, and the positive potential of cultures and the exercise of cultural rights to serve as critical tools in responding to the climate emergency. View issue in focus page | View the report page | View document A/75/298 and its annex

Cultural rights defenders: This report aims to raise awareness about the work of cultural rights defenders, with a view to enhancing the attention and assistance they receive. The report includes a definition of cultural rights defenders, an overview of the diverse human rights work they engage in, and the challenges and risks they face. Recommendations for better recognizing, defending and supporting them are also provided. View Issue in focus page | View document A/HRC/43/50

Latest country reports

Mission to Maldives (9 to 18 June 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/50/add.2

Mission to Tuvalu (18 to 24 September 2019)
View document A/HRC/46/34/Add.1

Latest news


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Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

Joint questionnaire: The impact of the 2019-2020 pandemic on human rights 
Closed. Report to be issued in March 2021.

Activities

Webinar: Preventing “cultural catastrophe” in the pandemic: a cultural rights approach. More information and registration. Interpretation in Spanish, Russian and American sign language will be available.
9 March 2021, 11 am /EST) / 5 p (CET) / 8pm (PST)

Webinar: Human rights, art and protest: voice and expression in U.S. minority communities in the time of the pandemic. More information. See the video recording of the event
11 February 2021

Participation of the Special Rapporteur in the launch conference of a Safety Guide for artists
3 February 2021, 10 am (EST)

Intervention and moderation by the Special Rapporteur of the round table 2 (as of 2:10:18), in the framework of the Safe Havens Global Stream, “Resource-givers and policy makers in fields pertinent to freedom of artistic expression and the protection and defense of at-risk artists”.
3 December 2020

Interview with the Special Rapporteur, “It’s difficult to imagine development without the arts and culture”, Christian Zeier, “One World” magazine, Dossier culture.
November 2020

Closing remarks of the Special Rapporteur for the International Congress on Cultural and Creative Industries, organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of the State of Jalisco (Haleesco), Mexico, on “Cultural rights in the face of the COVID19 crisis
28-30 October 2020

Participation of the Special Rapporteur in the side-event “Safeguarding the rights to freedom of religion or belief and cultural rights at a time of crisis” during the UN General Assembly. To register, please write to unforb@gmail.com. 22 October 2020, from 12:00 -1:15 pm EDT (via Zoom).

Participation of the Special Rapporteur in the webinar “Climate change and cultural extinction: A Human Rights Crisis” during the UN General Assembly. Click on the link to register.
21 October 2020, from 1:15pm - 2:45pm EDT / 5:15pm - 6:45pm GMT (via Zoom).

Intervention of the Special Rapporteur for the conclusion of the conference “The 2020 Rome Charter”, organized by the city of Rome and Cities and Local Governments United (CLGU)
3 October 2020

HRC decides to postpone the implementation of resolution 37/17 on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage to its 47th session (June 2021)
2 October 2020

Intervention of the Special Rapporteur on “Culture is the heart of our response to COVID19” at the Local and Regional Governments day of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, 10 July 2020

More activities

Videos

3 October 2020
Concluding message of the Special Rapporteur for the conference “The 2020 Rome Charter”, organized by the city of Rome and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
Watch the video

10 July 2020
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Local and Regional Government day, round table “Accelerating transformation from the ground up in the post COVID19 era”
Watch the video of the intervention of the Special Rapporteur on “Culture is the heart of our response to COVID19” (as of 6.32)

22 April 2020
“The cultural mobilisation in the COVID19 pandemic”, organized by UCLG, UN Habitat and metropolis
Watch the video

26 April 2019
20th anniversary of the 2nd Protocol of 1999 to the 1954 Hague Convention: On the importance of protecting cultural heritage against intentional destruction
Watch the video

26 October 2018
UDHR 70th anniversary message: Universality and cultural diversity go hand in hand
Watch the video

26 October 2018
Universality, cultural diversity and cultural rights: Discussion with Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka
Watch the video

5 July 2018
Interview on access to culture for all (in English with French subtitles)
Watch the video

Former mandate holder

Ms. Farida Shaheed
2009-2015


Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights
Recent thematic reports
Issues in Focus
Contact Information

Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 917 96 30
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
E-mail: srculturalrights@ohchr.org

Personal Twitter page of the Special Rapporteur

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To subscribe to the Special Rapporteur's mailing list, please send an email to srculturalrights@ohchr.org, with the title "mailing list of the Special Rapporteur". 

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