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Call for inputs: Report on cultural rights and migration

Issued by

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


02 February 2023

presented to

in March 2023 to the HRC


Issued by Special Procedures


Civil and political rights

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In this report, the Special Rapporteur underlines the rights of migrants to have access to and effectively participate in all aspects of cultural lives, both of the host State and their own cultures. The Special Rapporteur recalls that international human rights law provisions protect those rights, regardless of the legal status of migrants and notes the need to ensure substantial equality in protecting cultural rights. The Special Rapporteur reflects on overcoming the obstacles that migrant artists face and highlights the need for intercultural exchange and interaction to ensure dynamic, diverse and democratic societies.


An estimated 280 million people, approximately 3.6% of the world’s population, currently live outside their country of origin. The reasons for these displacements are numerous: some may have chosen to leave to pursue better opportunities elsewhere; many are compelled to leave for a complex combination of reasons, including poverty, lack of access to healthcare, education, water, food, housing, and the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change; others are forced to flee persecution and conflicts. Such displacements, and the related loss of security, bearings, networks and relationships, increase their vulnerability to human rights violations, including violations of their cultural rights.

For her upcoming report to the Human Rights Council, to be presented in March 2023, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki, will consider the respect, protection and fulfilment of the cultural rights of persons in the context of migration.

To inform her report, the Special Rapporteur warmly invites States, regional and local governments, international and regional organizations, National Human Rights Institutions, equality bodies, academics and civil society organizations, UN agencies, funds and programmes and other interested stakeholders to share relevant information.


Cultural rights protect the rights for each person, individually and in community with others, as well as groups of people, to develop and express their humanity, their views and the meanings they give to their existence and their development through, inter alia, values, beliefs, convictions, languages, knowledge and the arts, institutions and ways of life. They are also considered as protecting access to cultural heritage and resources that allow such identification and development processes to take place.

Cultural rights are recognized to all, regardless of their gender, origin and status, in particular for the cases of migration. The Special Rapporteur will focus mainly, but not exclusively, on the rights of forced migrants. In forced migration, the Special Rapporteur includes the situations of various ‘newly’ displaced persons, such as undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and registered refugees. Whereas the Special Rapporteur understand that different laws and regulations may apply to asylum seekers, refugees and other new migrants in the early stages of their arrival to a host country, all these persons are found in a vulnerable position and they all need to have important elements of their identities, histories and values respected and allowed to flourish further. In particular, the expert would like to assess how the cultural rights of migrants are implemented

- Upon arrival in a host country;
- Through the settlement period;
- In policies aiming at their inclusion, often called ‘integration’.

The Special Rapporteur believes that there is a need to focus particularly on the cultural rights of persons who have been forced away from their state of origin. The emphasis on the protection of the rights of these persons, she notes, has so far been on non-refoulement, right to stay, security and prohibition from arbitrary detention, civil and political rights and more recently on socio-economic rights. However, protection of the cultural rights of these persons seems to be lacking.

Key questions and types of input sought
  1. What are the issues relating to cultural rights that you see in your country’s migration processes? Please provide relevant information concerning laws and regulations, programmes and measures, services and practices that seem relevant.
  2. Do migrants have access to the cultural services and institutions of the host society? How about undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and refugees? How is such access ensured?
  3. Are tangible artefacts belonging to migrants protected by the state? Does their use affect the cultural rights of migrants?
  4. Which institutions have been successful in respecting and protecting the cultural resources and assets of migrants? Please provide examples when possible, including on how this was achieved.
  5. What are the steps that relevant local and national authorities take to ensure that the rights of migrants to access, practice, maintain and transmit living cultural resources are protected, especially forced migrants?
  6. What is the position of governmental authorities when cultural practices of migrants are not in line with those of the majority of the population?
  7. Please provide examples of how the tensions have been handled in the past.
  8. How do the different sectors of the population learn about the cultures of the migrants, especially new and forced migrants? Please provide information about existing spaces, including media spaces, and opportunities for the host society to encounter and engage with cultural resources of migrants.
  9. What challenges do migrants face currently in practicing, maintaining and transmitting their culture, especially when they are new and/or forced migrants?
  10. Please share good practices in protecting the cultural rights of migrants to access cultural resources and services, to enjoy their heritage and that of others, to use their language in private and in public, to participate in cultural life, to freedom of artistic expression and to take part in decisions that impact their cultural life. Please focus more on new and/or forced migrants.
  11. Please advise how cultural rights of vulnerable and marginalised sections of migrants are protected.
How inputs will be used

Unless otherwise informed, all submissions received and names of their authors will be published on the website of the mandate.