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Report on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on the enjoyment of cultural rights

8 August 2014
Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
To the General Assembly at its 69th session


For her 2014 report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur sought to identify main challenges and obstacles posed by advertising and marketing practices to the enjoyment of cultural rights.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The increasing encroachment of advertising on public space is one of the issues the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights © Marcin Rutkiewicz
Photomontage by Marcin Rutkiewicz. © Marcin Rutkiewicz, with the courtesy of the author

One of the questions the Special Rapporteur addressed in her study is whether advertising and marketing practices affect cultural diversity and the right of people to choose their way of life.

Examining new trends in advertising and marketing strategies, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the increasingly blurred line between commercial advertising and other content, especially in the areas of culture and education. An overall concern relates to the disproportionate presence of commercial advertising and marketing in public spaces, the myriad advertisements and marketing messages people receive daily, the dissemination of such communications using a large variety of media in a systematic and integrated way and the resort to techniques aimed at circumventing individual rational decision-making.

She included in her report recommendations that States protect people from undue levels of commercial advertising and marketing while increasing the space for not-for-profit expressions. Within the framework of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and based on the view that commercial messaging may be granted less protection than other forms of speech, the Special Rapporteur recommended that States regulate the area more effectively. Of particular note is the recommendation to ban all commercial advertising and marketing in public and private schools.


In order to identify main challenges and obstacles posed by advertising and marketing practices to the enjoyment of cultural rights, including the right to education, the right to artistic freedom, the right to enjoy and access cultural heritage and the right to choose one’s way of life, the Special Rapporteur prepared a questionnaire and disseminated it in December 2013.

See the letter of the Special Rapporteur and the Note verbale.

Read the questionnaire in English.

Learn more about the way policies on public spaces influence the enjoyment of cultural rights.

Responses to the questionnaire

Responses from States

  1. Algeria
  2. Argentina
  3. Australia
  4. Brazil English | Portuguese
  5. Chile Note verbale | Annex
  6. Colombia
  7. Cuba
  8. Denmark
  9. Finland
  10. France
  11. Georgia | Note verbale
  12. Greece
  13. Guatemala
  14. Honduras
  15. Italy
  16. Lithuania
  17. Mauritius
  18. Mexico 1 | 2
  19. Portugal
  20. Qatar
  21. Russian Federation
  22. Serbia
  23. Togo | Note verbale
  24. Switzerland
  25. United Arab Emirates
  26. United States of America
  27. Uzbekistan

Responses from NHRIs

  1. Ombudsman, Republic of Azerbaijan
  2. Defensor del Pueblo, Bolivia
  3. Human rights Ombudsmen, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  4. Defensoria del pueblo, Colombia
  5. Danish Institute for Human Rights
  6. Defensoria del Pueblo, Ecuador
  7. Procuraduria para la Defensa de los derechos humanos, El Salvador
  8. Ombudsman, Georgia
  9. Procuraduria para la Defensa de los derechos humanos, Nicaragua
  10. Defensoria del Pueblo, Paraguay
  11. Qatar National Human Rights Committee Arabic | English
  12. National Commission for Human Rights, Rwanda
  13. Slovak National Center for Human Rights
  14. Commission nationale des droits de l’homme, Togo | Note verbale
  15. Human Rights Commission, Uganda
  16. Defensoria del Pueblo, Venezuela

Responses from other stakeholders

  1. Alana Institute, Brazil
  2. Korean Broadcasting Commission
  3. Paysages de France
  4. Résistance à l’Agression Publicitaire, France

Other contributions received

  1. Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) and WWF-UK

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Contact Information

Alexandra Xanthaki, 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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