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News & Advocacy

52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council

The 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 27 February – 4 April 2023, will consider issues including cultural rights, the protection of human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, disability rights, and the right to food and adequate housing, among others. It will also present an opportunity to address grave human rights situations in states including Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Iran, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Belarus, Syria, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Sudan, Honduras, and the Central African Republic, among many others.

ARC and PEN International will issue an oral joint statement on behalf of a group of cultural rights organizations and artists on March 15 during the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Alexandra Xanthaki. The Special Rapporteur will be presenting her new report, entitled "Cultural rights and migration." The statement will be published on this page on the day of its release.

The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the UN responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. The Council holds three regular sessions throughout the year, bringing together UN officials, diplomatic representatives, and human rights organizations to discuss human rights issues of global concern.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 52nd regular session at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 27 February – 4 April 2023. During the session, follow the live-updated program of work on Sched and the sessions on UN TV. A full list of the reports to be covered during the session can be found here. Stay up-to-date: Follow @atriskartists and #HRC52 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Joint oral statement on cultural rights and migration

Thank you, Ms. Vice President.

On behalf of PEN International, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), and 183 organizations and individuals, it is my honor to address the Human Rights Council today to express our support of the Special Rapporteur’s new report on Cultural Rights and Migration, Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki. 

We live in a time characterized by record numbers of displaced people globally, fleeing repression and conflicts. Among them are thousands of artists, writers, and cultural defenders. 

Migrant artists and culture professionals continue to face serious challenges in exercising their freedom of expression in host countries: lack of access to resources, targeted discriminatory attacks, and cultural barriers. They are often unable to fully participate in cultural life, adding to their socioeconomic fragility. Their struggle is exacerbated by the failure of the international community to recognize them as artists who need our protection. 

We urge member states to recognize the critical role of migrant artists in advancing human rights and ensure the full inclusion of migrant artists through accessible asylum policies, comprehensive protection programs, and proactive inclusive cultural policies. 

We thank the Special Rapporteur for spotlighting these critical issues. Art and culture have never been more important.

Thank you for your attention. 


List of Supporting Organizations:

  • Action for Hope
  • Active Vista International Human Rights Festival
  • Agir ensemble pour les droits humains
  • Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network, comprised of 16 organizations mostly based in Africa
  • Arrowsmith Press
  • Artcom Platform
  • Arterial Network
  • ARTICLE 19 Regional Office for Mexico and Central America
  • Artist Protection Fund
  • Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI)
  • ArtLords
  • ArtsEquator
  • Asociación Cachada Teatro
  • Asociación Cultural Azoro (ACA)
  • Association Jazz à Ouaga
  • Association Semfilms
  • Avant-Garde Lawyers (AGL)
  • Bangkok International Performing Arts Meeting (BIPAM)
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  • Cambodian Living Arts
  • Cartooning for Peace
  • Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
  • Center for a Free Cuba
  • Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Cordova A.C.
  • CFW - Culture Funding Watch
  • Circostrada
  • Colectiva Sobrepasadas
  • Common Ground
  • Creative Industries of Cambodia Association for Development and Advocacy (CICADA)
  • Cubalex
  • Cultural Hub | NGO, NPO, Independent Ukrainian Think Tank.
  • Culture Action Europe
  • Culture All Nippon (CAN)
  • Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy)
  • DAKILA Collective
  • Delight Lab (Chile)
  • Društvo Asociacija, Association of Arts and Culture NGOs and Freelancers
  • Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)
  • English PEN
  • Ettijahat - Independent Culture
  • Festivales Solidarios
  • Free Arts
  • Freedom House
  • Freemuse
  • French PEN Club
  • Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Gender Justice and Peace
  • Hammerl Arts Rights Transfer (HART)
  • Helem
  • Human Rights Film Network
  • Humanists International
  • IFEX
  • Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión (IPLEX)
  • International Campaign for Afghanistan’s Musicians
  • International Film Festival And Forum On Human Rights | Fifdh
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  • Iris Literary Agency
  • Ithaca City of Asylum
  • Japan PEN
  • Labo Ciudadano
  • Living Arts International
  • Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network
  • Mekong Cultural Hub
  • Movies That Matter
  • Movimiento San Isidro
  • Nhimbe Trust
  • Observatorio de Derechos Culturales
  • On the Move
  • ONG Acción Constitucional
  • Oregon Institute for Creative Research
  • PAR - Artists Protection Network, composed of 7 organizations operating in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • PEN Afrikaans
  • PEN Belarus
  • PEN Canada
  • PEN Chile
  • PEN Croatia
  • PEN Cuban Writers in Exile center
  • PEN Denmark
  • PEN Eritrea in Exile
  • PEN Estonia
  • PEN Finland
  • PEN Greece
  • PEN Intercultural Chiapas
  • PEN Ireland/PEN na hÉireann
  • Pen Melbourne 
  • PEN Netherlands
  • PEN Nigeria
  • P.E.N. Québec 
  • PEN Trieste
  • PEN Türkiye
  • PEN Sierra Leone 
  • PEN Slovenia
  • PEN South Africa 
  • PEN Suisse Romand
  • PEN Sweden
  • PEN Sydney
  • PEN Zambia
  • Penn Cultural Heritage Center
  • People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action
  • Post Museum
  • Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)
  • Protection International Africa
  • Red Femenina de Cuba
  • Refugees Platform in Egypt - RPE
  • Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art
  • Roberto Cimetta Fund
  • Safe Havens Freedom Talks (SH|FT)
  • Salzburg Global
  • Sandblast Arts
  • Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre
  • Shuddhashar FreeVoice
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  • SWAN Swedish Artist Residency Network
  • Tamizdat
  • Tanzania Artists Rights Organization (TARO)
  • The European Music Council
  • The International Music Council
  • The Kurdistan Human Rights Association-Geneva (KMMK-G)
  • The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
  • TransCultural Exchange
  • Untold Narratives CIC
  • Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
  • Urgent Action Fund Latin America and the Caribbean
  • US Committee of the Blue Shield
  • Vietnamese Abroad PEN
  • Vietnamese League for Human Rights in Switzerland
  • Wartists
  • Women's Foundation eFKa
  • World Organisation Against Torture

List of Supporting Individuals:

  • Abdoulaye Diallo
  • Abdullah Alkafri
  • Adel Fahmy, Egyptian artist and human rights defender
  • Ai Weiwei Studio
  • Aigerim Kapar, curator
  • Alejandra Labastida
  • Alexis Romay
  • Ali Asgar Tara
  • Anamely Ramos González
  • Anastasia Blokhina
  • Aunohita Mojumdar, Journalist
  • Basma El Husseiny
  • Carolina Barrero
  • Christopher Merrill, Director, International Writing Program, University of Iowa
  • Cicerón Aguilar
  • Coco Fusco
  • Cris Gera
  • Danielle V. B. Smith, Sandblast founder
  • Dr. Daniel Gad, Cultural Policy Researcher at the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development, Germany, ARTS RIGHTS JUSTICE program
  • Dragana Alfirević
  • Elizabeth (Libby) Kirkby-McLeod
  • Frisia Batista Mokárzel
  • Gitinywa A.Louis, Senior Partner/Kigali Attorneys Chamber LLP
  • Halim Henish, Egyptian human rights lawyer
  • Hiroko Tsuboi-Friedman
  • Imogen Canavan
  • Inese Dabola
  • Jenny Holzer
  • John Suarez, Executive Director, Center for a Free Cuba
  • Katherine Bisquet
  • Dr. Katherine Schofield, incoming Head of the Department of Music, King’s College London
  • Kathy Rowland
  • Katrina Stuart Santiago
  • Laritza Diversent, Human Rights lawyer
  • Lembulisi Gwalugano Ayubu, Head of Fine Arts Department of Tanzania Artists Rights Organization (TARO)
  • Lucía Ixchiú
  • Mai Khoi
  • Mary Ann DeVlieg
  • Michael Hanna, Egyptian artist and human rights defender
  • Nonardo Perea
  • Nour Khalil, lawyer and human rights defender
  • Octavio de la Suarre, President, Academia de la Historia de Cuba en el Exilio
  • Omaid Sharifi
  • Rahima Mahmut, Executive Director of Stop Uyghur Genocide
  • Raul Silesky Jimenez
  • Roberta Schwartz
  • Sabina Đogić, filmmaker
  • Siro del Castillo
  • Stéphane Segreto-Aguilar
  • Sverre Pedersen, Chair of Freemuse Executive Committee
  • Vanesa Rivera
  • Wanuri Kahiu
  • Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
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