Cultural rights are human rights, says UN expert

National, Normal

The National,Friday July 13th, 2012

in HoniaraDELEGATES of the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts at the first cultural rights symposium for the Pacific were told yesterday their cultural rights were enshrined in a number of international human rights conventions.
During a three-day symposium held this week to coincide with the festival, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Farida Shaheed said these rights continued to be unrecognised.The concept of cultural rights is enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights of the UN (which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the International Covenant and Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. “The declaration says everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community,” Shaheed said. “Article 17 of the International Covenant and Civil and Political Rights addresses the rights of minorities in particular to enjoy their own culture; profess and practice their own religion and use their own language.” She said the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had expanded on that, stating that the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and can only become a reality when everyone could enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights as well as their civil and political rights. She summarised cultural rights as the right to take part in cultural life; the right to language; the right to education and the right to artistic expression. The symposium, which brought together several of the region’s forward thinkers on culture to discuss cultural rights in the Pacific context (and in relation to other human rights), as well as intellectual property and traditional knowledge, was organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).