Building peace in the minds of men and women

Right to participate in cultural life

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

Article 27

  1. 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.
  2. 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.



See also:


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