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Cultural rights: UN expert to assess the current situation in Serbia and Kosovo*

GENEVA / BELGRADE / PRISTINA (29 September 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune will visit Serbia and Kosovo* from 3 to 14 October 2016 to assess efforts to implement the right of all persons to participate in cultural life and to access and enjoy cultural heritage. This will include close consideration of the destruction of such heritage, both in the past and in the present.

“I am looking forward to learning how Serbia and Kosovo* understand the realization of cultural rights and endeavor to implement them through policies, especially in the areas of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage,” said the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise in the field of cultural rights in all countries.

“I will also assess policies developed to ensure the right of all people, irrespective of their group affiliation, to enjoy their cultural rights, express their historical narratives, interpret their own cultural heritage and manifest their culture, and to do so without discrimination,” Ms. Bennoune noted.

During her ten-day visit, the expert will meet with authorities, at the national as well as local levels, as well as a wide range of stakeholders working in the fields of cultural policies, cultural heritage and cultural rights, including academics and relevant institutions. She will also meet with civil society organisations, representatives of UN agencies and regional organisations to discuss good practices and challenges concerning the enjoyment by all of the right to access and enjoy cultural heritage.

Ms. Bennoune, who is carrying out this country visit at the invitation of the Government of Serbia, will travel to various parts of Serbia and Kosovo* to learn of varied perspectives, experiences and initiatives and develop a holistic understanding of the enjoyment of and challenges to cultural rights. She hopes that her visit will offer an opportunity both to the Government and all stakeholders, to share their experience and discuss existing challenges. 

The Special Rapporteur will address the press in Pristina on Wednesday 12 October and in Belgrade on Friday 14 October 2016. Details about the time and venue will be confirmed at a later stage. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in a future session.
(*) Reference to Kosovo shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

Ms. Karima Bennoune was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2015. She grew up in Algeria and the United States. She is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law where she teaches courses on human rights and international law. Ms. Bennoune has worked in the field of human rights for more than 20 years. Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/CulturalRights/Pages/SRCulturalRightsIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Serbia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/RSIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Serbia and Kosovo (during and after the visit): Ms. Mylène Bidault (+ 41 79 444 40 78 / 41 22 917 92 54 / mbidault@ohchr.org) or write to srculturalrights@ohchr.org.
In Geneva (before the visit): Johanne Bouchard (+41 22 917 96 05 / jbouchard@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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