Subscribe to SIAWI content updates by Email
Home > impact on women / resistance > UN: Fundamentalism, Extremism and Cultural Rights

UN: Fundamentalism, Extremism and Cultural Rights

Tuesday 21 February 2017, by siawi3

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Source: /CulturalRights/Pages/SRCultur alRightsIndex.aspx

or: /Issues/CulturalRights/A_HRC_3 4_56_EN.docx

Cultural Rights: The new report to the UN human rights council on Fundamentalism, Extremism and Cultural Rights, in all regions, involving state and non-state actors, has just been released by the UN. It covers diverse forms of fundamentalism and extremism, including far right extremism in Europe and N. America
( the report was finished in December: it does not include more recent developments).

Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


I. Introduction 3
A. Defining and understanding fundamentalism and extremism 3
B. A human rights approach to fundamentalism and extremism 6

II. International legal framework 10
A. Relevant international standards 10
B. Analysis of fundamentalism and extremism in the United Nations system 12

III. Fundamentalism, extremism and cultural rights 14
A. Freedom of artistic expression and attacks against artists 14
B. Attacks against intellectuals and cultural rights defenders 15
C. The right to take part in cultural life without discrimination 16
D. Attacks against educational institutions, personnel and students 19

IV. Conclusions and recommendations 20
A. Conclusions 20
B. Recommendations 20

Fundamentalist and extremist State and non-State actors often threaten the right to freedom of artistic expression. Artists have been accused of “blasphemy†or “religious defamation†, insulting “religious feelings†or inciting “religious hatred†. They are targeted both because creativity and expression per se are seen as a threat by fundamentalists and extremists, but also because artists often resist and offer alternatives to fundamentalist and extremist agendas. The history and practice of women’s artistic expression is often erased by diverse fundamentalists. Entire artistic practices, such as music, are sometimes banned as by jihadist groups .
Fundamentalist and extremist movements have often targeted intellectuals, in particular those who have opposed them. Their aim is to decapitate society, wiping out its culture and frightening others into silence. Past examples include the widespread assassinations of Algerian intellectuals by fundamentalist armed groups during the 1990s. The recent spate of jihadist attacks on writers, publishers and freethinkers in Bangladesh and the placing of others on a death list represents a continuation of this phenomenon.
While observing that reference to culture, religion and tradition has often been misused to justify discrimination, the Special Rapporteur’s predecessor proposed a paradigm shift: from viewing culture as an obstacle to women’s rights to emphasizing the need to ensure women’s equal enjoyment of cultural rights (see A/67/287). Women’s cultural rights are a prime target for fundamentalists and extremists, who often claim to be defending culture, religion or tradition but instead deny the rights of others in these regards.
The struggle for women’s rights is an essential component of the fight against all forms of extremism, fundamentalism and terrorism. The gender component is not optional. “Every step forward in the fight for women’s rights is a piece of the struggle against fundamentalism.†Women human rights defenders have been leading the fight against fundamentalism and extremism for decades without sufficient attention being paid to their concerns by Governments, international organizations or the international human rights movement. They have urged that attention be paid to “warning sign of fundamentalism†, including rising violence against women, obvious developments which were “often ignored for the sake of national and religious unity†. Women human rights defenders challenging fundamentalist and extremist movements by, inter alia, defending women’s rights to take part in cultural life without discrimination are defending dynamic, living culture and cultural rights in accordance with international norms. They are cultural rights defenders. The Special Rapporteur concurs with the statement issued by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, along with the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice, alerting the international community that a “global trend of fundamentalism and populism†poses increasing risks to women human rights defenders.