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Situation of Artists in Time of War and Crisis

Last update: 10 March 2022
Situation of Artists in Time of War and Crisis
Joint Oral Statement. 49th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Thank you, Mr. Vice President,

On behalf of PEN International, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America, 70 organizations and individuals, it is my honour to address the Human Rights Council today to express our support for the new Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki.

Globally, writers, artists, and cultural rights defenders are increasingly under threat. Those from marginalized communities face additional obstacles in exercising their right to artistic expression. We are constantly receiving reports of threats to cultural heritage and attacks on cultural actors, particularly in Afghanistan, Cuba, Myanmar, and Uganda, to name a few.

We are currently witnessing the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in Ukraine, where the situation is critical, and museums and other cultural institutions — otherwise protected under humanitarian law – have also been affected.

Therefore, we urge member states to recognize artists, cultural practitioners, and cultural rights defenders as a particularly at-risk group in times of war and crisis.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur is absolutely essential at this time of global upheaval. We are committed to working with her to ensure that cultural rights are respected as fundamental human rights, particularly in relation to the most vulnerable communities, including refugees, minorities, and indigenous peoples.

We wish to assure the Special Rapporteur of our full cooperation and commitment throughout her mandate.

Thank you for your attention.

List of Signatories

· Danish PEN

· English PEN

· PEN America

· PEN Belarus

· PEN Bolivia

· PEN Canada

· PEN Chile

· PEN Club of Cuban Writers in Exile

· PEN Eritrea

· PEN Gambia

· PEN Guadalajara

· PEN International

· PEN Kenya

· PEN Nigeria

· PEN Norway

· The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc

· PEN Québec

· PEN Paraguay

· PEN San Miguel

· PEN Sierra Leone

· PEN Togo

· PEN Uganda

· Uyghur PEN

· Africa Human Rights Network (AHRN)

· Arterial Network

· Artsequator, Singapore

· Artist Protection Fund (APF)

· Artistic Cultural and Social Association (Artveda), Tunisia

· Bytes for All Pakistan

· Cartel Urbano (Colombia) – Juan David Arenas


· Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)

· Club de las Letras – Nicaragua

· Cubalex

· Festivales Solidarios, Guatemala


· Freedom House

· Fundación Acceso – Shelter City Costa Rica

· Hammerl Arts Rights Transfer (HART)

· Humanists International

· Makhampom Foundation

· Mekong Cultural Hub, Cambodian Living Arts and Living Arts International

· National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Kenya (Defenders Coalition)

· Omong-Omong Media

· ONG Acción Constitucional (Chile) – Danny Rayman

· PAGASA- People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action Philippines

· Penn Cultural Heritage Center

· Protection International (PI) Africa

· Rujak Center of Urban Studies (RCUS)

· Safe Havens Freedom Talks

· Shirkat Gah-Women’s Resource Centre

· Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

· Treatment Action Group

· Olfa Arfaoui, Founder FeMENA Network, Tunis, Tunisia

· Dounia Benslimane, Independent Cultural Operator and activist Casablanca, Morocco

· Thanom Chapakdee, cultural worker, Thailand

· Nelson Dino, poet and novelist, Malaysia

· Louis Gitinywa, Advocate and Senior Partner, Kigali Attorneys and Legal Partners Rwanda

· Tran Luong, curator and visual artist, Vietnam

· Rahima Mahmut, U.K. Director, World Uyghur Congress

· Aunohita Majumdar, journalist, Nepal/ India

· Dr. Ismail Mohamed, Director Center for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal

· Nora, visual artist, Myanmar

· Dr. Stella Nyanzi, Scholar at Writers-in-Exile, PEN Germany

· Diana Ramarohetra, individual art supporter and advocate

· Rachita Taneja, Political cartoonist, India

· Ma Thida, writer, Myanmar

· Woon Tien Wei, Co-Artistic Director, The Substation Singapore

· Jing-Wen Tseng, cultural practitioner, Taiwan

· Rina Tsou, filmmaker, Taiwan

· Hiroko Tsuboi-Friedman, Expert Facility member, UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Japan

· Kacey Wong, visual artist, Hong Kong