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Joint Statement at the 40th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

On March 1, 2019, ARC Director Julie Trébault, made a joint statement in support of the tenth-anniversary report of United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, at the 40th session of United Nations Human Rights Council. On behalf of ARC, PEN America, PEN International, Freemuse, and Avant-Garde Lawyers, Trebault encouraged the United Nations to support Bennoune’s effort to develop a framework for the protection of artists and called for the adoption by the Human Rights Council of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Artists since artists are currently not protected by any specific legal mechanism.

Here is the full translated transcription of the statement originally given in French.

Watch here (in English and its original language - French) - segment 2:25:00 to 2:27:47.  

Thank you, Vice President.

The celebration of the tenth anniversary of the mandate on Cultural Rights and the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a unique opportunity to recall the importance of the right to freedom of artistic expression and creation.

On behalf of Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America, the American Center for PEN International, Freemuse and Avant-Garde Lawyers, it is my honor to be present here today at the Human Rights Council to express our support for the wonderful work of the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights. We welcome and commend in particular her latest report and call for the adoption by the Council of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Artists. Such a declaration would allow member states to encourage and intensify their efforts to promote and support freedom of artistic expression and to protect artists and cultural rights defenders. Cultural rights defenders are not protected by any specific legal mechanism. We call for them to be recognized as human rights defenders.

Vice President, freedom of artistic expression and creation are essential to a free and open society. Artists give voice to our collective conscience. In recent years, violations committed against artists, authorized by States and committed in particular by online digital companies, have increased significantly according to the data collated by Freemuse.

Therefore, we encourage the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations in the field of cultural rights to continue to work on the development of a framework to recognize artists as human rights defenders. We also call for the adoption of a United Nations Declaration on the rights of artists.

Thank you for your attention.

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