Agenda Item 2: General Debate
- Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.
Thank you Mr. President,
In the current political narrative, culture is often a tool for Other-ing, a tool to distinguish a hostile ‘them’. As the political right is thriving across Western-Europe and North America, the notion of ‘identity’ and ‘culture’ gives room for xenophobia to grow and for hostilities to arise. International-Lawyers.Org and Geneva International Centre for Justice are thankful the High Commissioner’s annual report underlines the importance of cultural rights.
The interaction between different ideas is what forms us as communities. Artists and cultural institutions are often the first ones questioning the status quo, allowing communities to develop. The Freedom of Artistic Expression is key in challenging our own biases and creating space for discussion, creating an inclusive society where a diversity in ideas, cultures and identities will thrive. Artistic expression forces a critical view and thus acts as an antidote to xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination.
Giving voices to the marginalized and expressing opinions other than our own benefits all, and are essential in achieving development, peace and social cohesion. The right of Freedom of Artistic Expression is therefore one to be cherished and protected. Those who do just that, artists of all media, should be supported and encouraged instead of prosecuted and hushed. Diversity should be seen as a strength. Inclusion will only be all-encompassing when everyone’s voice is heard, even those who go against our own.