UN expert: advertising violates cultural rights

farida shaheed

Above: UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights Farida Shaheed

What today is preoccupying the UN human rights system?

Not the gross and systematic human rights violations of dictatorships like China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, who were just welcomed back as members of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, and whose millions of victims have never once been given their day in court by even a single resolution.

Rather, the UN rights office — as announced in its press release  issued moments ago (see below) — is now devoting its limited time and resources to a major study on “the impact that advertising and marketing practices may have on cultural diversity and the right of people to choose their way of life.”

Farida Shaheed, the “United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights,” got the UN in December to send a diplomatic note to 193 countries to solicit their input.

The 2012 resolution that renewed and upgraded this absurd position was initiated by Cuba, with a list of co-sponsors that included such paragons of cultural rights as Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Zimbabwe. The cost? An estimated $982,800.

The U.S. and Europe, for reasons known only to them, joined consensus.

 

OHCHR news release logo

 

UN expert kicks off new study on the impact of advertising and marketing on cultural rights

GENEVA (7 February 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, is launching a new study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights, with an up-close look at their effect on cultural diversity and human rights.

Ms. Shaheed will be looking at the effect of commercial sponsorship on academic and artistic freedoms, as well as on the content of art museum exhibits, among other issues. Her report will be considered by the UN General Assembly in October this year.

“One underlying problem”, the human rights expert said, “relates to the impact that advertising and marketing practices may have on cultural diversity and the right of people to choose their way of life”.

“The modification of our cultural and symbolic landscapes through billboards or screens, the increasing encroachment of advertising on our public space and the intrusion of advertising in schools and universities are among the concerns I intend to address in this report,” she explained.

The Special Rapporteur has already laid the basis for her study through a first series of meetings with experts in New York. She has also reached out to all UN Member States and other interested parties to seek their views, for example on the use of private data for commercial purposes, the use of neuromarketing or behavioural targeting, and possible regulation to differentiate commercial speech from non-commercial speech.*

“Many ethical and human rights issues are at stake”, Ms. Shaheed stressed. “I am particularly interested in the mechanisms that can ensure a variety of narratives and values in the public space and through mass media, beyond what is often referred to as ‘commercial culture.’”

The Special Rapporteur’s study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights will be made available online in September / October 2014, during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s webpage on the ongoing study, including the questionnaire for all interested stakeholders (deadline: 3 March 2014):
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/CulturalRights/Pages/impactofadvertisingandmarketing.aspx

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