Suppression of artsfreedom in Middle East and North Africa discussed in UN

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The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in conjunction with Freemuse and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry organised a discussion panel on Friday 13 March 2015 on the sidelines of the 28th Human Rights Council session in Geneva, discussing several forms of suppression of artistic freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa.

The panel, the first of its type to discuss the suppression and confiscation of artists’ freedom and artistic expression in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), was hosted by Farida Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights.

The panel also featured two Arab artists: Syrian visual artist Sulafa Hijazi and Palestinian-Syrian cartoonist Hani Abbas. The discussion was moderated by Ole Reitov, the founding director of Freemuse.


Lack of political will
The panel discussed the latest statistics and reports on violations in the sphere of artistic freedoms, giving many examples of the censorship and suppression of artists and various forms of artistic expression in the Middle East and North Africa.

Farida Shaheed concluded the panel by stressing that the crisis does not only lie in state censorship, but in the lack of political will to liberate art by regimes that realise the power of art and its capacity to bring change.

The Norwegian delegation praised the panel topic and offered a set of recommendations from the Norwegian experience, including one, referred to by the CIHRS during the panel, on the need to create means to discuss instruments for the protection of artistic expression in the Human Rights Council, as well as calling on states to initiate a dialogue on the creation of a comprehensive instrument for the protection of creativity and artists that includes a definition of their rights and protection.


Read the full report from the discussion panel here:

» Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies – 15 March 2015:
In a Panel On the side lines of the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council: CIHRS and its Partners Convene the First Panel on Artistic Freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa

» The article was republished by StarAfrica on 16 March 2015:
CIHRS and its Partners Convene the First Panel on Artistic Freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa