Discussion on the Special procedure mandate in the field of cultural rights

On the 20th of June 2012 the NGO
Platform on diversity and cultural rights hosted an event on the subject of
cultural rights.

The main speaker of the side event was the
Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed.

As the first mandate holder, her job began
with identifying cultural rights, based on the assumption that everyone has the
right to take part in cultural life. This consists of three elements:  The right to access for culture, the right to
participate in, and to contribute to culture. She highlighted the utmost
importance of respecting cultural diversity and discussed her report –presented
to the Human Rights Council also later that week – entitled “The right to enjoy the benefits of
scientific progress and its applications”
. The report is characterised by
four main ideas: (i) access by everyone without discrimination to the benefits
of science and its application; (ii) opportunities for all to contribute to
scientific enterprise and possession of the necessary freedom to perform scientific
research; (iii) participation of individuals and communities in the
decision-making and the related right to information; and (iv) an enabling
environment fostering the conservation, development and diffusion of science
and technology. Another speaker, Mr
Patrice Meyer-Bisch
(University of Fribourg) emphasised that the link
between the science and the culture is human creativity. The right to access to
science includes the right to education, as the latter enables individuals to
understand and participate in scientific life. Finally, Ms Rikki Holmaat, professor of the University of Fribourg, discussed
women in the field of cultural rights, by reporting existing discrimination of
women in access to cultural rights.

In the closing remarks the moderator, Claire de
Lavernette, thanked the Special Rapporteur and expressed admiration for her work.