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Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


Purpose of the mandate

Cultural rights are fundamental for the respect of human dignity, in the diversity of its expressions. This mandate was created to:

  • Give greater visibility to cultural rights in the human rights system; and to
  • Foster a better understanding of the severity of their violations, and of the opportunity of their realisation for all.

Learn more about how the implementation of cultural rights is critical for sustainable peace, equality and development through the Issues in focus section.

About the mandate

In 2009 the Human Rights Council decided to establish, for a period of three years, a new special procedure entitled "independent expert in the field of cultural rights" through resolution 10/23.

This mandate was extended for a period of three years in 2012, through resolution 19/6; in 2015, through resolution 28/9, and in 2018, through resolution 37/12.

Learn more about the mandate

Current mandate holder

Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2015. Ms. Bennoune grew up in Algeria and in the United States. She is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law, where she teaches human rights and international law. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Read Karima Bennoune's full biography

Key documents

Cultural rights: tenth anniversary report

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español

The universality of human rights, cultural diversity and cultural rights

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español

Latest thematic reports

Cultural mixing and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights calls for greater recognition of human rights-respecting cultural mixing and syncretism and increased respect for mixed cultural identities, all of which is necessary for the implementation of cultural rights. View document A/76/178 and its annex.

COVID-19, cultures and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights surveys the negative impacts of COVID-19 on culture and cultural rights worldwide, and the positive potential of culture and cultural rights, and the right to science, to enhance rights-respecting solutions and build resilience. The report also contains relevant recommendations for action. View issue in focus page | View the report page | View the advanced edited version of the report.

Climate change, culture and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur addresses the cultural and cultural rights dimensions of the current climate emergency, which have too often been overlooked. She considers the negative impacts of climate change on human cultures and on the enjoyment of cultural rights, and the positive potential of cultures and the exercise of cultural rights to serve as critical tools in responding to the climate emergency. View issue in focus page | View the report page | View document A/75/298 and its annex

Cultural rights defenders: This report aims to raise awareness about the work of cultural rights defenders, with a view to enhancing the attention and assistance they receive. The report includes a definition of cultural rights defenders, an overview of the diverse human rights work they engage in, and the challenges and risks they face. Recommendations for better recognizing, defending and supporting them are also provided. View Issue in focus page | View document A/HRC/43/50

Latest country reports

Mission to Maldives (9 to 18 June 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/50/add.2

Mission to Tuvalu (18 to 24 September 2019)
View document A/HRC/46/34/Add.1

Latest news


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Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

Joint questionnaire: The impact of the 2019-2020 pandemic on human rights 
Closed. Report to be issued in March 2021.

Activities

Webinar on the last HRC report: Preventing "cultural catastrophe" in the pandemic: a cultural rights approach. More information and recording
9 March 2021

Webinars organised by the French national consultative commission for human rights (CNCDH) on women’s rights in France, focusing on culture and education and the transmission of gender stereotypes. More information and recording of the event in French
4 March 2021

Panel discussion organised by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on artistic freedom and expression. More information and access to the recording
2 March 2021

Webinar: Human rights, art and protest: voice and expression in U.S. minority communities in the time of the pandemic. More information. See the video recording of the event
11 February 2021

Participation of the Special Rapporteur in the launch conference of a Safety Guide for artists
3 February 2021, 10 am (EST)

Interview with the Special Rapporteur, “It’s difficult to imagine development without the arts and culture”, Christian Zeier, “One World” magazine, Dossier culture.
November 2020

HRC decides to postpone the implementation of resolution 37/17 on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage to its 47th session (June 2021)
2 October 2020

More activities

Videos

10 July 2020
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Local and Regional Government day, round table “Accelerating transformation from the ground up in the post COVID19 era”
Watch the video of the intervention of the Special Rapporteur on “Culture is the heart of our response to COVID19” (as of 6.32)

26 April 2019
20th anniversary of the 2nd Protocol of 1999 to the 1954 Hague Convention: On the importance of protecting cultural heritage against intentional destruction
Watch the video

26 October 2018
UDHR 70th anniversary message: Universality and cultural diversity go hand in hand
Watch the video

26 October 2018
Universality, cultural diversity and cultural rights: Discussion with Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka
Watch the video

5 July 2018
Interview on access to culture for all (in English with French subtitles)
Watch the video

Former mandate holder

Ms. Farida Shaheed
2009-2015


Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights
Recent thematic reports
Issues in Focus
Contact Information

Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 917 96 30
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
E-mail: srculturalrights@ohchr.org

Personal Twitter page of the Special Rapporteur

Subscribe to the mailing list

To subscribe to the Special Rapporteur's mailing list, please send an email to srculturalrights@ohchr.org, with the title "mailing list of the Special Rapporteur". 

Others Involved
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