Deeyah Khan – Norwegian Film maker and Music Producer appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO’s 2005 Convention

Ms Deeyah Khan was appointed as UNESCO’s first ever Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity on Monday 21st November.

The ceremony took place at UNESCO HQ in Paris in the presence of the Director General, Irina Bokova, Ms Laila Bokhari, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of Norway, and Elin Østebø Johansen, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Norway to UNESCO

Ms Khan, who was born in Norway, has dedicated her life and work to promoting freedom of expression for artists and human rights through a variety of self-started initiatives and platforms. Deeyah Khan develops many of her projects through her music, arts and film production company Fuuse, the World Woman festival in Oslo, the award winning ‘sister-hood’ online magazine and series of live events to promote better representation of women and artists.

Ms Khan who has already participated in UNESCO expert meetings on artistic freedom in particular during World Press Freedom Day 2016 in Helsinki, Finland, will focus her advocacy work on issues of freedom of creation, mobility and economic and social rights of artists. She will also help to mobilize support for the International Fund for Cultural Diversity, established under UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and the promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to help sustain cultural and creative industries in developing countries.

"Art is as necessary to democracy as a free press, and this is deeply significant in this House, to help everyone understand UNESCO’s mandate in communication and culture," Irina Bokova said at the ceremony.

Accepting her appointment and certificate, Ms Khan underlined: "Our consideration of the human rights in any country should include the freedom of artists to create. This also includes freedom of movement, because mobility has become an intrinsic part of artists’ lives and creative practices".

"The rights of artists to express themselves freely are under threat worldwide. Art has the extraordinary capacity to express resistance and rebellion, protest and hope.  It provides a vital contribution to any functioning democracy", she added.

Referring to the need to defend human rights for artists, State Secretary Ms Laila Bokhari said: "Freedom does not depend on policies and measures that promote and protect artistic freedom alone. In order to secure the sphere of freedom to create - policies and measures that recognize and promote the social and economic rights of artists are also essential.  This is very clearly pointed out in the UNESCO 2005 Convention’s Global Report: Reshaping cultural policies".

Following the ceremony, a debate featuring the new Goodwill Ambassador and Mr Frank La Rue, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Communication and Information took place in front of an audience of students, academics and experts.

"Critical voices come in many forms. Art has always been a critical voice in society. As a matter of fact, it has been a very profound expression of societies and often it has tremendous impact beyond booth public and political discourse. Recognizing the diversity of cultural expressions is critical", emphasized Frank La Rue.

The debate ended with the screening of one of Deeyah Khans’ latest film: JIHAD- A Story of Others.

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