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The rise of fundamentalism and extremism, in diverse forms, represent major threats to human rights worldwide and are growing challenges that must be faced with urgency, using a human rights approach.

You will find below the thematic work conducted by the mandate on this topic, as well as developments in other parts of the UN system and important links.


Fundamentalism and extremism and their grave impact on cultural rights (2017)

In her 2017 thematic report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/34/56), the Special Rapporteur addresses the rise of fundamentalism and extremism, in diverse forms, and their grave impact on the enjoyment of cultural rights.

The report maps how such ideologies, in all their form, gravely undermine the enjoyment of cultural rights, have in common a mindset based on intolerance of differences and pluralism and attempt to stamp out cultural diversity and dissent. The Special Rapporteur stresses the centrality of cultural rights in combating fundamentalism and extremism, stating that arts, education, science and culture are critical to creating alternatives, making space for peaceful contestation, promoting inclusion and protecting youth from radicalization.

The expert makes a number of recommendations, including a call to the international community to give much more consideration to the local opponents of fundamentalism and extremism, human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, in international gatherings to discuss strategy on how to battle these ideologies.

Find more information on the report page

The impact of fundamentalism and extremism on the cultural rights of women (2017)

© Mohamed Messara. An actress performs a scene from the play 'Sin of Success' during the 17th edition of the Carthage Theatrical Days Festival at the Municipal Theatre in Tunis, Tunisia, 18 October 2015. The piece written and directed by Tunisian writer and theater director Meriam Bousselmi explores the situation of Arab women today and their battles for equality with men.

Questions relating to fundamentalism and extremism are further addressed in the Special Rapporteur's 2017 report to the General Assembly (A/72/155). In this report, she focuses on the specific impact of these ideologies on the cultural rights of women.

She stresses that a human rights-based response to fundamentalism and extremism must by fully gender-sensitive, focusing on the cultural rights and equality of women, and defending universality. She highlighted in particular that women's human rights, including cultural rights, are an essential part of the fight against fundamentalism and extremism, without which it could not succeed.

In order to assess the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on women's enjoyment of cultural rights, the Special Rapporteur prepared a questionnaire. See the note verbal, the questionnaire and the responses received on the report page.

Related events and productions

  • Event on Resisting repression: How culture inspires the democratic movement in Belarus, organised by the Atlantic Council, 19 April 2021
  • Keynote address by the Special Rapporteur in the webinar Les combats des femmes contre les obscurantismes : Instruments et actions. Organized by Regards de Femmes, online, 28 November 2020.
  • Participation of the Special Rapporteur in the seminar on "2030 Agenda and Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Global Rise of Fundamentalisms", organized by Agenda 2030 Feminista, Barcelona, 7 March 2019
  • Keynote speech by the Special Rapporteur at the Annual Seminar of the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities entitled "What Is at Stake When Religion and Culture Bypass Human Rights & Who Pays the Prize?", Oslo, Norway, 4 December 2018
  • Participation of the Special Rapporteur in the Symposium on "Freedom of religion or belief, cultural rights and women: promoting a gendered perspective on freedom of thought, conscience and religion", organized by Muslims for Progressive Values, Geneva, 23 May 2018
  • Written contribution by the Special Rapporteur to the conference "Countering Violent Extremism: European Context and the Bangladeshi Diaspora", organised by European Bangladesh Forum as a side-event to the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva, 22 March 2018
  • Parallel event "#ImamsForShe: Engaging Imams for Sustainable Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women and Girls", 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, New York, 19 March 2018
  • Side-event "Facing up to the global avalanche of hate: the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on cultural rights", Palais des Nations, Geneva, 3 March 2017
    • See the video of the event
  • Side-event "Time to take a stand: the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on the cultural rights of women", New York, 26 October 2017

Further developments in the UN system

  • The Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity presented to the General Assembly a report (A/75/180) on the threat that populism poses to the principle of international solidarity, 20 July 2020
  • The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and the Special Advisor of the Secretary General on the prevention of genocide published a joint study on the contribution of transitional justice to the prevention of gross violations and abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and their recurrence (A/HRC/37/65), which include a full section on the needed interventions by States in the domains of culture and personal dispositions, 6 June 2018

Useful links