We are either not conscious enough or we often forget it but the right to participate in cultural life is recognized, since the 1948, in the article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, since 1996, in the article 15 of the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
We can discuss lot about the virtues and shortcommings of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but it is, for the time being, the only consensus document on which we can base an attempt to global coexistence. Is indeed significant that, according to the Guinness Book of Records, in 1999 the UDHR was the document translated into more world languages (518 in 2018).
That culture is included in the document is relevant especially since, as lawyers point out, because all the rights recognized in the Declaration are indivisible and interdependent. This entails that, in practice, the violation of a single right directly affects all the other rights. We should keep this in mind, speciallt when we adress the duality of health and culture.
The right to participate in cultural life is, since 2009, under evaluation by United Nations’ Special Rapporteur, Karima Bennoune. In her last report, this expert points out that the transforming power of art and culture lies in the very nature of the aesthetic experience, which links cognitive faculties with the senses and emotions, making it fundamental to learning, reflecting, experimenting and accepting complexity. Artistic and cultural practices involve creating meaning and generate empowerment and, therefore, have much to do with the rest of fundamental rights.
In Catalonia, on January 21, the Human Rights’ Plan was publicly presented to the public by the Síndic de Greuges and the Human Rights’ Institute. At the moment it is a preliminary analysis of the situation that will be open to debate for the collective construction of the final proposal to be submitted to the consideration of the Parliament and the Government of Catalonia.
In 2004 in Barcelona, INTERARTS coordinated a first major international conference on cultural rights that generated significant impacts and opened a political debate in the global agendas. This trend cannot be reversed. We therefore welcome the implementation of this Human Rights’ Plan in Catalonia and we invite the sector to participate with determination and conviction.
The cultural policies of the future, both in the local sphere and in international relations, should be based on human rights. Only in this way will we overcome the traditional partisan logic that, for example, made the cultural pact of 1985 unfeasible and we will be able, as individuals and as a society, to seriously defefend the freedom to be who we want to be, to preserve the memory that interests us collectively, to imagine other ways of being in the world and not leave anyone behind when it comes to expressing opinions and decideding, to express ideas and feelings through all the creative languages that define us as people.
We have the right to music, poetry, theater, beauty and criticism, to rational scientific knowledge and emotions. We have the right to grow through the stories we tell in order to guarantee the continuation of the human species.
Gemma Carbó, chair of the Board of the Interarts Foundation