Upholding the Human Right to Culture in Post-Conflict Societies

Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March 2021

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is mandated as a national human rights institution to uphold all of the human rights in the international human rights treaties. These include the right to culture. However, the Commission has found that little attention has been paid to cultural rights in human rights discourse. In particular, the promotion and protection of cultural rights in societies emerging from conflict is a neglected area. Little guidance exists for States, cultural stakeholders and such human rights actors as national human rights institutions as to how best to uphold cultural rights in such contexts. This gap is of particular concern for the promotion of cultural rights in Northern Ireland, a society that is emerging from decades of conflict. It is in order to redress this gap in literature and policy guidance that the Commission is publishing the present report.

The report is set against the backdrop of the designation of Derry/Londonderry as UK City of Culture 2013. The experience of that city as City of Culture is used as a case study in relation to the realisation of cultural rights in a post-conflict society. As part of the UK City of Culture initiative, the Commission organised a conference and consultation on cultural rights in divided and post-conflict societies in association with the University of Ulster and in co-operation with the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed. This event took place in Derry/Londonderry from 1 to 3 July 2013 and the discussions that took place informed the finalisation of the current report as well as the attached recommendations.

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