Freemuse and PEN America host expert meeting facilitated by UN rapporteurs

30 October 2019

Building trust, assessing ‘norms’ and building frameworks to advance freedom of artistic expression

Freemuse, PEN America, Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights and David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression hosted an expert meeting in New York.

The meeting reflected the current state of artistic freedom; it is under threat.

Across the globe, governments, civil society organisations, non-state actors, and societal groups are restricting the right of individuals to express themselves artistically, and this culture of silencing artists is continuously present in countries of both the Global North and South.

Indecency, public morality, nudity and terrorism are notable illustrations of the most popular tools employed to restrict artistic freedom.

Bringing together leaders in the field of artistic expression, cultural rights and human rights, the meeting strategised future interventions to strengthen internal norms, strengthen advocacy and develop a strong constituency to advance freedom of artistic expression.

Dr Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director said, “We face extremely unique challenges in protecting the rights of those who wish to express themselves artistically. In bringing together this group of experts – artists, activists and advocates – we have been able to set the foundations for a clear and meaningful strategy towards developing the most impactful initiatives to fulfil our shared mission.”

Julie Trebault, Director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America, which hosted the meeting, said, “We were delighted to host this meeting, which convened Special Rapporteurs David Kaye and Karima Bennoune, as well as artists and numerous representatives from US-based and international NGOs. The discussion was a meaningful step toward engaging civil society representatives and artists to collaboratively defend artistic freedom of expression at the international and grassroots levels.”

The way forward involves a number of key steps including:

  • Calling on governments to refrain from using concerning laws and by-laws that are inconsistent with international human rights standards with a view to repeal or amend problematic articles;
  • Continued dialogue between the cohort of decision-makers, artists and activists with a view to developing a coalition of artistic freedom defenders;
  • A commitment to shared research to be used to advocate for the rights of artists and those who wish to express themselves artistically.




Emily D’Alterio
Communications Officer

T: +45 3332 1027

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