Next year, 2019, will mark as the 10th anniversary of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. To celebrate, the current Special Rapporteur – Karima Bennoune – has decided to devote her next thematic report to taking stock of the impact of the work of the cultural rights remit, inviting relevant actors to send contributions to inform her study.

How can we ensure that culture is accessible to all?

By its resolution 10/23 of 26 March 2009, the Human Rights Council decided to establish, for a period of three years, a new post of “independent expert in the field of cultural rights” to explore realities and trends in respect of cultural rights as set out in the relevant UN human rights instruments. This mandate was further extended for a period of three years in 2015 and again in 2018. The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights acts as an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council and reports every year to both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights focuses on the three Ps: The need to protect public space, promote arts and culture and the need too participate in cultural life. Cultural rights are a critical tool for advancing to meet human rights goals.  These are three aspects of life, that people and governments in every region around the world should promote in order to ensure cultural rights.



Cultural rights and the joy of participating in culture belongs to all of us

Karima Bennoune, UN Special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights



International cooperation is crucial to foster the adoption of measures at the local, national, regional and international levels aimed at the promotion and protection of cultural rights. The Special Rapporteur is requested to work in close coordination with experts, academics, practitioners and civil society organisations, as well as with other relevant actors.

The Special Rapporteur has announced the 10th anniversary as being an important opportunity to make an assessment of what has been achieved through her work, and that of her predecessors.

It is also an opportunity to highlight the various ways in which the fuller realisation of cultural rights can further contribute to strengthening, enhancing and defending the human rights system as a whole.

The Special Rapporteur therefore invited all civil society organisations relevant to UN Agencies, to contribute to a consultation. This is aimed at taking stock of the impact of the work of the cultural rights mandate since its creation, and at identifying issues relating to cultural rights, which stakeholders consider to be priorities for the mandate’s work in the coming years.

Contributions pointing out significant progress, good practices or areas of outstanding challenge would be considered for the mandate’s work in the coming years.

Libraries promoting cultural rights

Though the library field is most often associated with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to access and share information and ideas), libraries also protect human rights by promoting participation in the cultural life of the community (Article 27).

Libraries and human rights are deeply linked as libraries worldwide are serving its communities, and resisting against censorship and discrimination, providing access to information, and supporting the rights of immigrants, minorities, people with disabilities, women, children, adolescents and others.

Libraries are the primary institutions in any society for safeguarding documentary cultural heritage, as well as ensuring that everyone has the possibility to benefit from it. Libraries are increasingly aware of their role in encouraging creativity, in addition to supporting access to culture, and in promoting understanding and tolerance.

IFLA has contributed to the call by the Special Rapporteur highlighting how libraries are adding to the mandate’s work, as well as the challenges that they face. IFLA is committed to supporting libraries, and to identifying and overcoming barriers.

Find the Call for Contribution here, and read the IFLA contribution to the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights here.

Throughout 2018, the UN and civil society have been celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Find out more about how you can get involved in the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in our Get Into guide.