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A/HRC/37/29: Intersessional seminar on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


27 December 2017

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Cultural rights

Through resolution 33/20, the Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene a one day seminar to be held before the 36th session of the Human Rights Council. The “Inter-sessional seminar on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage” took place on 7 July 2017 in Geneva.

The seminar focused on the need to adopt a human rights approach to the protection of cultural heritage. The destruction of cultural heritage is a human rights issue, and responses to it require a holistic approach centred on the realization of human rights—particularly cultural rights. Measures to protect cultural heritage must focus on tangible and intangible heritage.

The seminar built the existing recommendations in reports by the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights (A/HRC/17/38, A/HRC/31/59 and A/71/317), and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/HRC/30/53), as well as on Human Rights Council resolution 33/20 of 27 September 2016 and Security Council resolutions 2347 of 24 March 2017 and 2199 of 12 February 2015. Participants discussed practical and concrete actions that should be taken towards the full and timely implementation of these recommendations.

Related resolutions and developments

In June 2021, an intersessional workshop on the protection of cultural heritage took place in Geneva. 

On 22 March 2018, the Human Rights Council adopted unanimously resolution A/HRC/RES/37/17. This resolution builds on the conclusions of the one-day seminar convened in July 2017, and reiterates the engagement of States to respect, protect and fulfil cultural rights in the field of cultural heritage.

On 6 October 2016, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling upon all States to respect, promote and protect the right of everyone to take part in cultural life, including the ability to access and enjoy cultural heritage, and to take relevant actions to achieve this (see resolution A/HRC/RES/33/20).

This initiative followed a cross-regional joint statement made to the Human Rights Council in March 2016, by an unprecedented coalition of 145 States. The statement condemned intentional destruction of cultural heritage and called for identification of best practices for its prevention, and for “raising awareness on the mutually reinforcing relation between the protection of cultural heritage and human rights and on the risks faced by defenders of cultural heritage.”

Statements, recordings, photos of the July 2017 seminar

Documents of the seminar

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