The protection and promotion of culture is a human rights imperative. The right to take part in cultural life guarantees the right of everyone to access, participate in and enjoy culture, cultural heritage and cultural expressions. A human-centred approach to development based on mutual respect and open dialogue among cultures is key to safeguarding heritage, strengthening creative industries, and encouraging cultural pluralism. The full realization of this right depends on concrete steps for the conservation, development, and diffusion of culture.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
- Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Cultural Heritage: a human rights-based approach
Amid intentional attacks against monuments and sites of cultural or religious significance and growing displacement of populations in conflict areas, UNESCO has made efforts to integrate access to, participation in and contribution to cultural life within humanitarian responses to crisis situations. UNESCO’s normative framework emphasizes the need for an approach to the protection, restoration, and preservation of cultural heritage that promotes universal respect for cultural rights by all and reiterates the engagement of States to respect, protect and fulfil cultural rights in the field of cultural heritage. This includes the role of indigenous communities in the production and maintenance of intangible cultural heritage. Conflicts, together with climate change and economic inequalities, continue to trigger massive population movements and to make societies increasingly diverse. Ensuring that everyone – host and displaced communities – can continue to access, participate in and enjoy their culture remains a challenge.
What is artistic freedom for you?
Artistic freedom has become a core concern in UNESCO programmes amid various challenges, including the protection of moral and intellectual interests in the digital environment, in particular with the growing use of artificial intelligence in the cultural and creative industries. Artistic freedom entails an array of rights, including the right to create without censorship or intimidation, the right to freedom of association, the right to protection of social and economic rights, the right to participate in cultural life, the right to have artistic work supported, distributed and remunerated, and the right to freedom of movement.
Culture and SDGs
Culture is who we are, and what shapes our identity. Placing culture at the heart of development policies is the only way to ensure a human-centred, inclusive and equitable development. (Jyoti Hosagrahar)
The UNESCO Thematic Indicators for Culture in the 2030 Agenda – Culture|2030 Indicators provide a framework to measure and monitor the progress of culture’s enabling contribution to the national and local implementation of the SDGs.
Read more: "Culture: at the heart of SDGs", UNESCO Courier
UNESCO Standard-Setting Instruments
With six core conventions, UNESCO’s normative framework covers the full spectrum of culture.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) and the Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) are important milestones that demonstrate cultural rights are inseparable from human rights.
Other standard-setting instruments :
- The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two (1954 and 1999) Protocols
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)
- Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
- Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist (1980)
- Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001)
- Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
- UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage (2003)
- Recommendation concerning the protection and promotion of museums and collections, their diversity and their role in society (2015)
See the full list here
- Culture, platforms and machines: The impact of Artificial Intelligence on the diversity of cultural expressions
- Culture Urban Future: Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development
- Human Rights and Cultural Perspectives, in UNESCO Courier
- Re|shaping cultural policies: a decade promoting the diversity of cultural expressions for development, 2005 Convention Global Report
- World Heritage and Cultural Diversity