Freemuse speaks at Human Rights Council

On 3 June 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, Freemuse made its first oral statement in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.


Commenting on the newly launched UN report on artistic freedom and creativity, Freemuse Programme Manager Ole Reitov said:

“The problems faced by artists are well described. Your analysis of the negative effects on societies of censorship and persecution should be an eye opener to the international community. Freemuse welcome the recommendations in your report. They are clear and constructive.”

Freemuse further commented on some UN member countries questioning the size and nature of violations on artistic freedom:

“In their replies, some delegations indicate that artists are the cause to unrest and danger to national unity. These tactics of ‘killing the messenger’ are well known from history. Artistic works have frequently served as the ‘voice of the voiceless’ and thus been attacked by repressive regimes.”

In the oral statement Freemuse reminded the UN Assembly of the recent attacks by militant religious extremists on artistic expressions and artists in countries such as Mali and Pakistan, and appealed to Iran and Saudi Arabia to abolish institutionalised discrimination against women artists.

Freemuse also criticized China, Turkey, Belarus, Russia and Hungary for non-transparent mechanisms of artistic censorship and repression.

In order to improve reporting on violations on artistic freedom, Freemuse proposed the relevant UN bodies consider establishing a one-stop entry point for reporting of violations of artistic freedom and member states and human rights organisations — in the future — in their UPR submissions incorporate chapters dealing with violations of artists rights to freedom expression.

Freemuse Award presented
After the conclusion of the UN session on artistic freedom, artists having experienced censorship and persecution had opportunity to present their experiences at another session hosted by the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms Farida Shaheed, and the Permanent Mission of Norway.

A presentation of the work of Freemuse and the newly established Artsfex Network was followed by a ceremony, where, Freemuse Executive Director Marie Korpe presented the Freemuse Award to Manny Ansar, Director of Festival au Désert in Mali.

Manny Ansar spoke about the situation in Mali and was followed by inputs from artists Deeyah, Didier Awadi, Nadia Plesner and Jonathan Stanczack.

UN Web TV: Watch video recording of the session

For print or download:

Statement [PDF-document]

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Related information

Le Temps – 1 March 2013:
Art, Culture and Human Rights
Artists are the first in line to denounce human rights violations and defend freedoms. Leo Kaneman, Director General of Geneva’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) explains.
Article by Leo Kaneman.