Purpose of the mandate

Cultural rights are fundamental for the respect of human dignity, in the diversity of its expressions. This mandate was created to:

  • Give greater visibility to cultural rights in the human rights system; and to
  • Foster a better understanding of the severity of their violations, and of the opportunity of their realisation for all.

Learn more about how the implementation of cultural rights is critical for sustainable peace, equality and development through the Issues in focus section.

About the mandate

In 2009 the Human Rights Council decided to establish, for a period of three years, a new special procedure entitled “independent expert in the field of cultural rights” through resolution 10/23.

This mandate was extended for a period of three years in 2012, through resolution 19/6; in 2015, through resolution 28/9, and in 2018, through resolution 37/12.

Current mandate holder

Karima Bennoune was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2015. Ms. Bennoune grew up in Algeria and in the United States. She is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law, where she teaches human rights and international law.

Latest thematic reports

COVID-19, cultures and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights surveys the negative impacts of COVID-19 on culture and cultural rights worldwide, and the positive potential of culture and cultural rights, and the right to science, to enhance rights-respecting solutions and build resilience. The report also contains relevant recommendations for action.

Climate change, culture and cultural rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur addresses the cultural and cultural rights dimensions of the current climate emergency, which have too often been overlooked. She considers the negative impacts of climate change on human cultures and on the enjoyment of cultural rights, and the positive potential of cultures and the exercise of cultural rights to serve as critical tools in responding to the climate emergency.

Cultural rights defendersThis report aims to raise awareness about the work of cultural rights defenders, with a view to enhancing the attention and assistance they receive. The report includes a definition of cultural rights defenders, an overview of the diverse human rights work they engage in, and the challenges and risks they face. Recommendations for better recognizing, defending and supporting them are also provided.