Freemuse Chief Calls for UNESCO Reforms, UN Plan for Safety of Artists


Ole Reitov, a co-founder of Freedom of Musical Expression (Freemuse) has called for UNESCO reforms and a UN plan for the safety of artists.

In a keynote speech delivered on May 2, 2017 on the occasion of the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day event in Jakarta, Reitov said: “parties to the 2005 UNESCO Convention should show, through action, that they live up to the two main principles of the convention: Promotion and protection.”

He appealed to donor countries to assist UNESCO and support programmes for artists and cultural industries that have suffered immensely from the intentional destruction of the living arts.

Reitov said: “Journalists are articulate, well organized and their work for the protection of journalists has led to a number of international declarations and support programmes. This is not the case with artists. Artists express themselves differently and in many countries they are poorly organized. There should be no distinction between the condemnation of attacks on journalists and artists”.

Freemuse’s Art Under Threat annual research on artistic freedom violations shows that attacks on artists continue to rise globally yet only limited and weak plans and programmes are put in place to safeguard their right to create, publish and distribute without facing censorship, intimidation or personal safety.

Freemuse urged the incoming Director General of UNESCO to, not only strongly condemn censorship, imprisonment and attacks on artists, but to also draft a UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Artists and the Issue of Impunity.

It also called on UNESCO to revamp its mechanism for filing human rights complaints, stressing that the mechanism needs to be strengthened and made more accessible to use.

Reitov emphasized that “It is time for UNESCO to modernize its complaints mechanism or Human Rights Procedure as this mechanism is officially called,” saying it is non-transparent and needs to be modernized on the same lines as the complaints mechanisms linked to the UN Special Rapporteurs.

Interested persons can show their commitment to artists’ welfare by joining Freemuse in calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate investigations and to charge well-known and identifiable leaders for their intentional destruction of intangible culture.