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Intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights

The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Karima Bennoune, is inviting all relevant stakeholders to contribute to a consultation on the intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights, in particular cultural rights.

In her first report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/59) and building on the report of devoted to the right to enjoy and access cultural heritage (A/HRC/17/38), the Special Rapporteur presented her initial observations about the intentional destruction of cultural heritage and indicated her intention to study this issue more in depth for her upcoming report to the General Assembly. This decision was welcomed by a cross-regional statement made to the 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.”

The consultation aims to assess the intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights and its impact on the exercise of the rights to enjoy and access cultural heritage, to access, contribute to and enjoy the arts and to participate in cultural life. To this purpose, all States, United Nations agencies, academics and civil society organizations are invited to send their contributions.

Contributions would particularly be appreciated on the following issues:

  • What is the impact of the intentional destruction of cultural heritage on the enjoyment of human rights, and particularly, on cultural rights? What is the impact of destruction of tangible cultural heritage on intangible cultural heritage, on cultural practices and beliefs, and on the right of concerned persons to participate in cultural life?
  • What are examples of different situations illustrating the above (situations of armed / non armed conflict or international / internal conflict; destructions by States / Non-States actors; geographical or other diversity, etc.)?
  • What are examples of good practices, especially with regard to prevention and protection against destruction, as well as repatriation and reconstruction measures of cultural heritage, including through human and cultural rights education and awareness?
  • What strategies are in place to protect cultural heritage defenders at risk? Under which circumstances can they be considered as cultural rights defenders?

Please send submissions electronically no later than 10 June 2016 to, using the email title: “Submission to study on intentional destruction of cultural heritage”. Kindly limit your responses to 2,500 words and attach annexes where necessary. Please also indicate if you have any objections with regard to your reply being posted on the OHCHR website.

Questions or requirement for clarifications concerning this request can be address to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (

Responses received

Responses from States:

  1. Armenia1 | 2
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Belgique
  4. Dominican Republic 1 | 2
  5. Georgia
  6. Greece
  7. Guatemala
  8. Italy
  9. Mauritius 1 | 2
  10. Philippines
  11. República del Salvador
  12. El Salvador - Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural
  13. Russian Federation (translation)
  14. Serbia
  15. United States of America
  16. Venezuela

Responses from NHRIs:

  1. Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de México
  2. Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance Tanzania
  3. Commission nationale des Droits de la Personne du Rwanda 1 | 2
  4. Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia
  5. Defensoría del Pueblo de Panamá
  6. Iranian Human rights commission 1 | 2
  7. National Human Rights Commission of India
  8. National Human Rights Institute of Paraguay

Responses from other stakeholders

  1. Adam Blitz
  2. American Association for the Advacement of Science (AAAS)
  3. Americans for Democracy and & Human rights in Bahrain
  4. Ana Filipa Vrdoljak 1 | 2 | 3
  5. Antoon de Baets
  6. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  7. At-sik-hata
  8. Christiane Johannot-Gradis
  9. Christoph Doppelhofer
  10. Cultural survival
  11. Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality
  12. Emek Shaveh
  13. Emma Loosley
  14. Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa
  15. Fanny –Iona Morel - Observatory of diversity and cultural rights, Uni.Fribourg
  16. Geneva Call
  17. Human Rights Advocates 1 | 2
  18. Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
  19. Lea Chauveau
  20. Luigia Bersani (Italian)
  21. Marina Lostal and Emma Cunliffe
  22. Maya Leaders Alliance in Belize
  23. Minority Rights Group International
  24. Missouri’s Little Dixie Heritage Foundation1 | 2
  25. Organization of Islamic Conference
  26. Patrice Meyer-Bisch –Observatoire de la diversité et des droits culturels
  27. Ram Puniyani
  28. Raman Maroz
  29. RASHID- Research, Assessment and Safeguarding of the Heritage of Iraq in Danger
  30. Republika Srpska
  31. Samuel Andrew Hardy
  32. Sawa Organisation for Human Rights
  33. Tamaynut NGO
  34. UNAMA-OHCHR Afghanistan
  35. UNESCO Chair on Cultural Landscapes and Heritage
  36. Youba Bathily
  37. Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica 1 | 2