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Report on freedom of artistic expression in China

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 19 October 2012 - ARTICLE 19 urges UNESCO to accept our shadow report on the state of artistic expression in China, which finds that the country has failed to create an environment conducive for diverse cultural expressions.

The shadow report is published today to mark the seven year anniversary of the adoption of the UNESCO convention on cultural expressions. The convention requires states to submit a report every four years on how they are implementing provisions to protect and promote cultural expression in their national laws and policies. 2012 is the first year that countries have been asked to present these national reports to the UN body.

While the convention on cultural expression encourages states to include the opinions of civil society in their quadrennial reports, ARTICLE 19 is concerned that few states will actually do so.

"ARTICLE 19 has produced this shadow-report on China to ensure that the review process of the implementation of the UNESCO convention does not amount to a bureaucratic, box-ticking exercise. For the Convention to be a meaningful instrument, the review of its implementation must be open and transparent and it must allow for a range of voices and perspectives to be shared, including those dissenting from official state reports."

"Such a process is the norm with UN-based review processes, such as the Universal Periodic Review and the Human Rights Committee. We urge the UNESCO convention committee to accept ARTICLE 19's shadow report and to truly recognise the importance of the voice of civil society."

"By accepting the report, they will be laying a precedent that this convention will ultimately defend the diverse cultural environment that we all want," Callamard added.

ARTICLE 19's shadow report argues that China has failed to create an environment conducive for diverse cultural expressions. The constitutional and legal framework , including legislation, contain a number of provisions that undermine the state's obligations relating to the protection and promotion of diverse cultural expressions, and the right to freedom of artistic expression more broadly.

China does not protect cultural expressions at risk in its territory. It actually further endangers them by implementing a policy of cultural homogeneity.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted on 20 October 2005 and has been ratified by 124 states and encourages states to include civil society when writing the national report.

Read the full submission:
China_A19_artisticexpression_report.pdf (396 KB)

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