UN: OHCHR Seminar on challenges posed by cultural rights


The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in partnership with the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and UNESCO, and in collaboration with the Observatory of diversity and cultural rights (Fribourg – Switzerland), proposes the holding of a seminar on the parametres of, issues arising from, and challenges posed by cultural rights.

The adoption by the Human Rights Council of Resolution 10/23 of 23 March 2009, establishing the mandate of the independent expert in the field of cultural rights, as well as the adoption by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of General Comment 21 (2009) on article 15 (1) (a) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, relating to the right to take part in cultural life (LINK) , offer an opportunity to reflect further on the scope of cultural rights within the international human rights system, as well as to identify obstacles and best practices for the implementation of these rights.

1. Objectives of the seminar

The seminar aims at clarifying concepts and at reflecting upon main issues raised by the realization of cultural rights. The discussion will also provide valuable insights that will help the Independent Expert in fulfilling her mandate and in identifying how best to implement cultural rights, while ensuring the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights.

2. Format

The seminar will be held over one day and a half (three sessions), and will be open to the participation of, inter alia, representatives of United Nations Member States, United Nations agencies, regional and international organizations, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions. Special procedures mandate holders as well as members of treaty bodies will also be invited to the meeting, depending on their availability in Geneva .

Expert panels will introduce the debate on each topic in a synthesized manner, on the basis of available preparatory documents.

Participants will be invited to ask questions and to make comments at the end of each session, after the discussion amongst experts. Sufficient time will be allocated to facilitate such interaction.

3. Provisional agenda

4. Topics

Session 1: Nature and scope of cultural rights within the human rights system

This session is designed to address the definition of cultural rights, on the basis of existing normative instruments, and to identify issues raised by the recognition of cultural rights as an integral part of the body of universal, indivisible and interdependent human rights. The following questions could be raised: which rights can be classified as “cultural”, and on the basis of which criteria? What is the nature and commonality of cultural rights? Which provisions of existing international instruments can be invoked for the purpose of cultural rights? How do the individual and collective dimensions of cultural rights link up together? How to ensure the full integration of cultural rights within the human rights system? What constitute possible limitations to cultural rights?

Session 2: Relationship between cultural rights and cultural diversity

This session is designed to explore the existing relationship between cultural rights and cultural diversity. The following questions could be raised: do cultural diversity and cultural rights protect each other and if so, in which circumstances? What is the positive or negative impact of the globalization of exchanges and information on cultural rights; what are the main concerns in this regard? How to respond to these challenges from the perspective of cultural rights? How best can policies integrate cultural rights bearing in mind the diversity of cultural identities?

Session 3: Cultural rights, development and participation

This session is designed to address the issues of participation and exclusions of individuals and communities in cultural development. The following questions could be raised: what are the major concerns arising from the impact of development processes on the enjoyment of cultural rights? What is the impact of policies for the promotion and protection of cultural rights on development processes and on the fight against poverty and violence? Which measures need to be taken to ensure that development is based on respect and realization of cultural rights? What are the diverse forms of violence and exclusion in the enjoyment of cultural rights? In particular, how do the relationships between women, family and communities interface with participation in cultural life?

5. Invited experts

•  Ms. Anna Maria Biró, Human Rights Consultant ( Hungary ) ( to be confirmed ).

•  Mr. Ahmed Boukous, Moroccan National Council on Human Rights, Director of the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture ( Morocco ) .

•  Mr. José Teixeira Coelho, University of Sao Paulo, School of Communication and Arts, Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum of the Sao Paulo University (Brazil) ( to be confirmed ).

•  Mr. Kenneth Deer, Indigenous World Association ( Canada ).

•  Ms. Geneviève Defraigne Tardieu, ATD Quart monde (France) .

•  Ms. Josefa Salita Fransisco, Chairperson, International Studies Dept . Miriam College ( Philippines )

•  Ms. Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change, Executive Director ( India ).

•  Ms. Marie-Aimée Hélie Lucas, Sociologist ( Algeria / France) ( to be confirmed ) .

•  Mr. Jaime Marchan Romero, Chair of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ( Ecuador ).

•  Mr. Jean-Bernard Marie, Director of research, National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) (France).

•  Ms. Angela Melo, UNESCO, Human Rights Section, Director.

•  Mr. Patrice Meyer-Bisch, Fribourg University , Observatory of diversity and cultural rights ( Switzerland ).

•  Ms. Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director, The Equal Rights Trust ( Bulgaria ).

•  Mr. Frédéric Sampson, UNESCO, Coordinator of the World report on Cultural Diversity.

•  Ms. Katarina Stenou, UNESCO, Division of cultural policies and intercultural dialogue, Director.

•  Mr. Abdulaye Sow, Lecturer in Social Sciences, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Center on Cultural Rights, University of Nouakchott ( Mauritania ).

•  Ms. Fatou Sow, Sociologist, Research Group on Women and Laws in Senegal (GREFELS) ( Senegal ).

6. Logistics

The seminar will be held in Room XXI of Palais des Nations, Geneva , Switzerland .

If you do not have a badge to enter the Palais des Nations, please send an email message to ieculturalrights@ohchr.org indicating that your name should be placed on the list with Security. (Please ensure additional time to obtain accreditation)

There will be simultaneous interpretation of the meeting into English, French and Spanish.

Advanced written contributions are welcome so that these perspectives may inform the discussions. These documents will be posted on this website.

For further information or clarification please contact the address below:

Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights
OHCHR – Palais Wilson
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Genève 10

Telephone : + 41 2 917 92 54
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
Email: ieculturalrights@ohchr.org