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Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


Purpose of the mandate

Cultural rights are fundamental for the respect of human dignity, in the diversity of its expressions. This mandate was created to:

  • Give greater visibility to cultural rights in the human rights system; and to
  • Foster a better understanding of the severity of their violations, and of the opportunity of their realisation for all.

Learn more about how the implementation of cultural rights is critical for sustainable peace, equality and development through the Issues in focus section.

About the mandate

In 2009 the Human Rights Council decided to establish, for a period of three years, a new special procedure entitled "independent expert in the field of cultural rights" through resolution 10/23.

This mandate was extended for a period of three years in 2012, through resolution 19/6; in 2015, through resolution 28/9, in 2018, through resolution 37/12, and in 2021, through resolution 46/9.

Learn more about the mandate

Current mandate holder

Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Alexandra Xanthaki was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2021. Ms. Xanthaki is Greek and lives in the United Kingdom where she works as a Professor of Laws at Brunel University London, United Kingdom. Throughout her academic career, Ms. Xanthaki has published over 50 publications relating to the cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, cultural diversity, cultural heritage, balancing cultural rights with other rights and interests, and multiculturalism and integration in international human rights law. She has worked with NGOs, civil society and has consulted States on such issues.

Read Alexandra Xanthaki's full biography.

Key documents

Cultural rights: tenth anniversary report

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español

The universality of human rights, cultural diversity and cultural rights

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español

Latest thematic reports

Capturing the state of the art: In her first report as newly appointed Special Rapporteur, Ms Alexandra Xanthaki presents an overview of her vision for the mandate. Building on the important work conducted by her predecessors, the Special Rapporteur recalls important aspects in the evolution of the nature and scope of cultural rights and reflects on the corresponding States’ obligations, highlights the positive nature of culture and the empowering force of cultural rights and identifies a preliminary list of issues she intends to address during her tenure. Read the Unedited version of the report.

Cultural mixing and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights calls for greater recognition of human rights-respecting cultural mixing and syncretism and increased respect for mixed cultural identities, all of which is necessary for the implementation of cultural rights. View the report page | View document A/76/178 and its annex.

COVID-19, cultures and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights surveys the negative impacts of COVID-19 on culture and cultural rights worldwide, and the positive potential of culture and cultural rights, and the right to science, to enhance rights-respecting solutions and build resilience. The report also contains relevant recommendations for action. View issue in focus page | View the report page | View document A/HRC/46/34.

Climate change, culture and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur addresses the cultural and cultural rights dimensions of the current climate emergency, which have too often been overlooked. She considers the negative impacts of climate change on human cultures and on the enjoyment of cultural rights, and the positive potential of cultures and the exercise of cultural rights to serve as critical tools in responding to the climate emergency. View issue in focus page | View the report page | View document A/75/298 and its annex

Latest country reports

Mission to Maldives (9 to 18 June 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/50/add.2

Mission to Tuvalu (18 to 24 September 2019)
View document A/HRC/46/34/Add.1


Latest news


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Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Activities

#Culture2030Goal campaign ResiliArt x Mondiacult event discussing a potential culture goal in the sustainable development agenda
28 February 2022

High level opening panel of the International conference “Climate. Culture. Peace”, organized by ICCROM together with a consortium of 55 partner institutions. More information about the 4-day conference here; video recording of the inaugural session here
24 January 2022 

Side event Beyond symbolic reparations: Perceptions, expectations and challenges in the Al Mahdi case and in Mali, organized by the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court in the framework of the 20th session of the Assembly of States Parties.
10 December 2021

Online events celebrating artists from minorities, a virtual art and activism tour and a showcase of #Music4Faith4Rights, organized by the OHCHR and Freemuse.
16 and 25 November 2021

Knowledge Sharing Workshop of the EU National Institutes for Culture on Artistic freedom and its place in international cultural relations, Paris. Read a summary here and see the recording here
22 November 2021

Launch of the Special Rapporteur’s report to the UN General Assembly: “The Children of “An Infinity of Cultures”: A Human Rights Approach to Cultural Mixing”
26 October 2021, 12.00-13.30 EST/17.00-18.30 BST

More activities

Videos

10 July 2020
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Local and Regional Government day, round table “Accelerating transformation from the ground up in the post COVID19 era”
Watch the video of the intervention of the Special Rapporteur on “Culture is the heart of our response to COVID19” (as of 6.32)

26 April 2019
20th anniversary of the 2nd Protocol of 1999 to the 1954 Hague Convention: On the importance of protecting cultural heritage against intentional destruction
Watch the video

Former mandate holder

Ms. Karima Bennoune
2015 - 2021

Ms. Farida Shaheed
2009-2015


Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights
Recent thematic reports
Issues in Focus
Contact Information

Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 917 96 30
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
E-mail: ohchr-srculturalrights@un.org

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