Cultural rights threatened by ‘global avalanche of hate,’ UN Special Rapporteur says

GENEVA, 3rd March, 2017 (WAM) — “We face a global avalanche of hate in the form of rising fundamentalism and extremism around the world,” said the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“This must be tackled with urgency, using a human rights approach. Culture and cultural rights are critical components of this response,” she said.

The normalisation of fundamentalist and extremist ideology in many political, cultural and media contexts around the world is deeply concerning, as is the increasing presence of its rhetoric among mainstream political parties and their candidates, Bennoune said.

In her report to the UN Human Rights Council, the special rapporteur highlighted how diverse fundamentalist and extremist ideologies have a common mindset based on intolerance of differences and pluralism. All attempt to stamp out cultural diversity and dissent, she added.

“These ideologies abuse cultural rights by stifling freedom of artistic expression and curtailing scientific freedom,” she said. “They impose ways of life, including through pressuring educational institutions, personnel and students, targeting minorities, promoting discrimination that infringes on the right to take part in cultural life, erasing symbols of coexistence, and undermining the universality of human rights.”

“Universality is one of the most important tools in the struggle against the harmful effects of fundamentalism and extremism on cultural rights, and must be resolutely defended,” Bennoune said.

The special rapporteur called for greater efforts to uphold cultural rights, which are a critical counterweight to fundamentalism and extremism.

“The arts, education, science and culture are the best ways to fight fundamentalism and extremism and to prevent or stop the human rights violations to which they give rise. They are not luxuries, but critical for promoting inclusion, making space for peaceful contestation and protecting youth from radicalisation,” Bennoune stressed.

She called for effective, united global action to combat these concerns while emphasising that it must be done in accordance with international standards and not misused as a justification to violate human rights.

“Whereas it is important to clearly condemn and act against violent forms of extremism, we must also tackle fundamentalist and extremist ideologies as these provide the basis for violence and violations. Extremist actors will not be truly disarmed unless their ideology is comprehensively challenged and repudiated,” she stated.

Source: Emirates News Agency