United Nations appoints new cultural rights rapporteur

14 October 2015

Karima Bennoune is the new UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. The new Special Rapporteur succeeds Ms Farida Shaheed, who strongly addressed issues of artistic freedom during her mandate period.

Karima Bennoune is a professor of international law at the University of California, Davis School of Law. She grew up in Algeria and the United States, and now lives in northern California. In 2013 she published a much acclaimed book ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’.

For the new Special Rapporteur the issue of religious extremism is very personal. Mahfoud Bennoune, her father, was an outspoken professor at the University of Algiers who faced death threats during the 1990s, but continued speaking out against fundamentalism and terrorism.

In writing the book, Karima Bennoune “set out to meet people who are today doing what her father did back then, to try to garner for them greater international support than Algerian democrats received during the 1990s.”

Topics of high complexity
Freemuse has collaborated closely with the outgoing Special Rapporteur on the UN report on artistic freedom and creativity. Says Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director:

“Ms Bennoune was chosen amongst a field of very strong candidates. It is a position which requires an ability to manoeuvre in a highly politicised environment and around topics of high complexity, which can be challenging. We look forward to collaborating with the new Special Rapporteur and her staff. We would also like to thank Ms Shaheed for her strong dedication to stand up for artistic freedom. Her report set a completely new agenda globally for artistic freedom.”

Karima Bennoune has a long, well recorded career, which includes consultancy on human rights issues for the International Council on Human Rights Policy and UNESCO. Her human rights field missions have included Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Tunisia.

Ms Bennoune will officially take over the mandate from 1 November 2015.

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See also:

» UN report on the right to artistic expression and creation

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