CAE Newsletter February 2017
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By Sara Whyatt, Consultant on Human Rights and Freedom of Expression
I really wasn’t going to talk about President Trump, as so much is being said I don’t see that I can add to it. But as each day of his presidency brings another offence to humanity – the closing of US borders to asylum seekers from Syria, and anyone other than diplomats from six other states; the attempts to shut down the media; and so much more. It brings to my mind that what is going on over the Atlantic will serve to legitimise and strengthen the already existing anti-democratic forces here in Europe.
At the Arts Rights Justice workshop in Budapest, I heard an artist from Poland speak of having to constantly look over her shoulder in case she might find herself being accused of blasphemy or insult. In Spain anti terror laws were used against puppeteers Raul García and Alfonso Lazaro who were imprisoned for 5 days after they put on a puppet show in February 2016. In both countries, there has been a feisty response from artists and civil rights groups, but my fear is that what is happening in the US will serve to embolden governments and populist movements in Europe that seek to dampen down their detractors.
I've heard at the 'Beyond the Obvious' conference that this is an age of uncertainty. I’ve also heard people here say that it is a time of confusion. I've heard that this is a time to sit back and reflect and I've also heard it is a time for urgency. For some (Corina Suteu) now is the time to act, accepting the fact that acting could put us in positions that are not comfortable, that may have repercussions.
I had expected to enjoy and learn from zoologist Professor Daniel Brooks talk on the effect of climate change on disease. What I had not expected was to discover the connections between how he and his colleagues who are monitoring and advocating on climate change, to my work on human rights, and specifically artistic freedom. Daniel spoke of the DAMA strategy – Document, Assess, Monitor, Act. This is the exact same process for ensuring artistic freedom. We need to document attacks, gathering information from the media, online, academic studies, from our colleagues – the widest range. We need to take time assess what is happening, what lies behind each attack, their reasons, who is carrying them out. We need to monitor. Are these forming patterns, or they isolated instances? From this we can identify when to act and what kind of action can be taken. This strategy combines the need both to reflect and to take action.
What is essential in these times is for us to act collectively, to have greater power and also to protect those among us who are most vulnerable to retribution in countries where respect for rights is most precarious. Culture Action Europe is supporting the Arts Rights Justice project and I am looking to you to work with the project in what are going to be challenging times.

Read more about 'Beyond the Obvious' conference in this newsletter. Check pictures from the Whale here and share your opinion on the BtO here.
By Yamam Al-Zubaidi, Riksteatern
As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not legally binding, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) remains the oldest piece of International Human Rights Law that explicitly mentions and guarantees cultural rights as human rights.
ICESCR was adopted and opened for ratification in 1976. Today, a majority of 165 states are a State Party to the Covenant (5 states are signatories and 27 states have not taken action). Still, cultural rights have not been given the same amount of attention in academic and legal literature as other human rights.
However, the relevant Treaty Body – The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has issued several General comments providing the necessary guidelines on how cultural rights according to article 15 in ICESCR are to be interpreted, with a number of remarks with direct implications on policy-making. In its general comment No 21, the Committee remarks that State Parties, in their strategies and policies, “should identify appropriate indicators and benchmarks, including disaggregated statistics and time frames that allow them to monitor effectively the implementation of the right of everyone to take part in cultural life”. In other words, the Committee seems to stress that a realization of cultural rights requires the same tools as the realization of other human rights - disaggregated data in terms of the protected characteristics in International Human Rights Law such as such as sex/gender, race/ethnic background and disability.
It is obvious: realising Human Rights is about systemic change, which requires well-informed policy-making and concise decision-making. Recognising patterns and trends in cultural participation with disaggregated data is not about diagnostics it is rather about accountability.
Much of the current political discussion is about equality including equality in culture and cultural participation, even though the terminology may vary – “diversity”, “gender equality”, “inclusion”, “integration” etc. International conferences and gatherings offer inspiring practices aiming at cultural equality. Still, almost every public debate ends with a question mark. What to do? How to do it?
Just as many other Human Rights, cultural rights are subject to progressive realisation. This is where the accountability comes in – any serious approach requires a continuous follow-up and an evaluation based on a normative principle. In that respect, all that is needed is already in place. The rights are ensured through an international legal norm through article 15 of ICESCR, the definitions and approximations are ensured through the General comments of the Committee. Using disaggregated data would make the follow-up on cultural policy-making and decision-making less ad-hoc and more transparent.

What remains is the discussion on the applicability, but this is rather a political discussion as realising rights is always political. For instance, in Europe the use of equality data (disaggregated data)  has been rejected by a majority of countries. The refusal to disaggregate data is often justified by dubious
referrals to data protection regulations and claims related to protection of privacy and protection of (mostly) ethnic minorities.
'The choice of blindness, no matter if it is colour-blindness, gender-blindness or disability-blindness is not helpful' 

However, data needed for the sake of policy-making is always about trends and not about individuals, thus it is collected on a voluntary basis generating indicators rather than exact figures. The practice is already in place in countries such as the USA and the UK. Guidelines on collecting data in a manner that accords with international legal instruments protecting privacy, based on the principles of anonymity and self-identification, are available as well. In fact many countries already have access to data through national censuses, but the data is not used.
The choice of blindness, no matter if it is colour-blindness, gender-blindness or disability-blindness is not helpful.  Or to put it in Patrick Simon’s words – it is a
“choice of ignorance”. Sure, data collection is expensive. But the question is whether we can afford the price of ignorance and further deterioration of international normative standards on cultural rights.
Finally, data would never overshadow artistic freedom. It would only inspire it. Ends and means are not to be confused.

Violations of Artists’ Rights More Than Doubled in 2016, Report Finds

Art Under Threat, an annual report released by Freemuse, charts incidents of censorship, violence, and persecution against artists around the world.
Mary Ann DeVlieg is an activist supporting, protecting and defending artists-at-risk, and an evaluator of international cultural collaboration projects. She was Secretary General of IETM from 1994-2013, and a founder of and co-founder of the Roberto Cimetta Fund
Lillian Fellmann: Each year hundreds of artists are censored, threatened, physically harmed, imprisoned, assassinated or executed. Freemuse documents a 119% increase in cases in 2016 compared with 2015. Is it all gloom and doom or is there anything positive you can observe?
Mary Ann DeVlieg: The statistics are rising each year, whether it is because more cases are reported or more artists are in danger. There certainly is a growing awareness of the role artist and arts workers play and the need for us to support, protect and defend them; that is the good news. The EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders cites artists as a category of those needing protection. A few foundations have launched programmes such as the Artists Protection Fund or at least, like the Ford Foundation, are researching potential programmes. Freedom of Expression and Human Rights NGOs are becoming sensitive to the needs of artists who act as defenders. Unions and international associations such as FIA, the International Federation of Actors, the International Theatre Institute ITI, in Britain the theatre and television union Equity, have chapters or committees or newsletters treating these issues.
LF: Initiatives like Arts Rights Justice, which you have co-founded and chaired, try to reach the arts sector in Europe to encourage artists and cultural organisations to get up-to-speed with regard to artists rights to learn to act. Do you feel the sector does enough?
MADV: ARJ chose a unique angle to train the sector on rights, and a lot still needs to be done there. On the other hand, increasing numbers of arts projects are addressing the situations of refugee artists, refugees working with artists and art, public opinion of art, artists and refugees, defending arts and cultural rights directly and indirectly. Just to name a few Ettijahat -- Independent Culture , The British Good Chance theatre company who worked in the Calais ‘jungle’, Khaled Harara, a Gazan rapper who was able to be guest artist in residence in Sweden thanks to the ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) and has launched a non-profit to help teach hip-hop to young Gazans in Palestine. There are also umbrella organisations, networks and dedicated non-profits and NGOs who work specifically for these artists such as Freemuse, whose spin-off Safemuse works to find shelter for musicians under threat, el Mawred Culture Resource for the MENA region, and ArtWatch Africa in Africa run monitoring, support programmes, advocacy.
Yet the arts sector has, in general, been slow to take up the challenge of solidarity, often focusing instead of ‘quality of the artwork’ instead of being concerned with the vulnerable situation in which an artist may find her or himself, attempting to make their work.
'The arts sector has, in general, been slow to take up the challenge of solidarity'

LF: Artists that have to leave their home country often become refugees, or temporary migrants. When they find refuge, is it really ‘temporary relocation’ as it is called?
MADV: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If these artists decide, or need to stay in the host country these artists more often than not either work with their own diaspora in the host country or set up non-profits or projects to work with people back home. Eventually, they will need support to find a way to make a living in the new country — which is hard enough for any artist, let alone someone who has not grown up in the national system and made contacts there all their life. There are other actions that support and defend these artists, campaigning, negotiating with their oppressors behind the scenes, and of course temporary relocation and safe shelter treats the symptom, not the cause. This can only be addressed by changing public opinion, installing the rule of law, educating lawyers, judges and policy makers.  
LF: After many years of working with activist and refugee artists, how can we all go on, how can you go on?
As an evaluator, I am struck by a sentence I read about the activist father of a young activist son. He said, ‘The legacy I leave my son is prison cells’. We need to evaluate for process and quality in such situations where what is necessary is sustained activism against what may seem like impossible odds. We need to find ways to convince the un-convinceable that numbers and quantity is not the only measure. Secondly as a citizen, and as a human, I do believe that in conscious gatherings, we are doing nothing less than contributing to the elaboration of a new paradigm of politics. What is happening at Standing Rock with the North Dakota Pipeline demonstrates what we see all around us — democracy as a system is corrupt; it has become corrupted; the people’s voice is no longer heeded. All political systems are utopic. What we are building will be utopic, but it can carry us a long way if we get it right.
Mary Ann DeVlieg is interviewed by Lillian Fellmann 
By Lillian Fellmann, ARJ

Freedom of expression is essential to the arts. Artists everywhere, and in all periods, have taken a role in standing up for human rights through their explorations of the human condition, particularly in times of unrest, oppression and chaos. Globally, the number of registered freedom of expression violations in the arts has more than doubled since 2015, with most cases coming from outside the EU. The change of the cultural climate in Europe, however, is at the same time evident and under-documented when it comes to artists' rights.

What is ARJ?
The Arts, Rights, Justice (ARJ) working group, supported by Culture Action Europe, comprises about 30 arts and cultural organisations, networks and individuals, including human rights and legal experts from Europe and beyond. ARJ aims to increase its members’ and the sector’s ability to read human rights breeches, and to co-create a climate of openness and solidarity in the arts and culture through debates and discussions.
Exhibit B, Photo: © Sofie Knijff / Barbican
ARJ Toolkit and Companion
ARJ published its public Toolkit on promoting and protecting freedom of artistic expression for use by arts and culture practitioners. ARJ also wrote the Companion to the toolkit. It works alongside the Toolkit, providing cases that explain many of the issues and ideas raised in the Toolkit as an aid to readers and trainers. 

Arts Rights Justice and the UN
Arts Rights Justice has a longstanding relationship with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights. ARJ members were among the consultative group that contributed to the first ever UN report on freedom of artistic expression published in 2013. When Ms Shaheed’s term expired, ARJ members drew up a ‘checklist’ of attributes necessary as a guide to the UN in selecting her successor to ensure the best possible candidate. ARJ was delighted to welcome Karima Bennoune who took up the post in 2015 and continues to work closely with us. ARJ is one of a handful of selected expert groups and organisations to work with Ms Bennoune to collect information for her annual reports.
The Impact of Fundamentalism and Extremism on the Enjoyment of Cultural Rights
In her second report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur considers how the rise of fundamentalism and extremism, in diverse forms, represents major threats to human rights worldwide and a growing challenge that must be faced with urgency, using a human rights approach. The report maps how such threats gravely undermine the enjoyment of cultural rights and stresses the centrality of cultural rights in combating them.
Another opportunity for ARJ to ensure arts and cultural rights form part of a wider debate is through making concrete recommendations. We therefore attempt to also use the case material to influence other UN mechanisms, like the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CECS). The UN’s UPR is a mechanism where every UN state has to answer to their peers on their adherence to UN human rights standards every 4-5 years. The UPR provides an opportunity for Civil Society Organisations to submit reports for consideration by the UN, and to lobby to ensure that their concerns are raised during the sessions.
'The UPR provides an opportunity for CSOs to submit reports for consideration by the UN, and to lobby to ensure that their concerns are raised during the sessions' 
In January 2015, Turkey was under UPR scrutiny. The ARJ member Siyah Bant had submitted a report to the process, and organised an event in Istanbul where artists, journalists, human right defenders, and academics watched the live web-cast of the session, commenting on social media during the session, followed by a debate on how artists in Turkey can work together to tackle censorship.
We strongly want to encourage all CAE members, partners and friends to collect cases with us, in your country, or all over Europe, as well as beyond (every UN country will come before the UPR at some point). Countries we focus on at the moment are Poland, where we observe overall freedom of expression breeches, and extensive surveillance under anti-terror acts. Spain will be before the CECS in November this year. The Netherlands in May. The latter has a strong right wing establishment. So far arts freedom is not affected, the March elections will show more.

Upcoming countries under the UPR mechanism are:

October (deadline June/July) – Ukraine, Romania, Switzerland
January (deadline October) – France, Romania, Serbia

Collect cases with us! Get in touch, so we can explain the mechanism to you., Lillian Fellmann
We are delighted to welcome new members of the Culture Action Europe Executive Committee. Corinne Szteinsznaider, Noel Kelly, Lars Ebert and Yamam Al Zubaidi were elected at the CAE Annual General Meeting on 25 January in Budapest. 

Culture Action Europe is a European network of membership organisations, cultural organisations and individuals dedicated to put culture at the heart of public debate and decision-making. JOIN US!

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