November 6, 2012
UN expert to assess cultural rights in SVG

United Nations Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed is expected to be in St Vincent and the Grenadines until November 9.{{more}}

Shaheed was expected to arrive yesterday to assess the country’s efforts to enhance the right to participate in cultural life and to enjoy and access cultural heritage, with a specific focus on minorities and indigenous communities, the poor, children and women.

“I am particularly eager to learn how the country understands the realization of cultural rights in relation to its policies for the promotion of tourism,” a UN press release quoted Shaheed as saying.

“I also intend to learn more about how the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines relate to their own history, including when it comes to documenting and writing or otherwise preserving the narratives and collective memories of slavery and its legacy,” the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of cultural rights is further quoted as saying.

Shaheed stressed that cultural rights are essential tools for development, peace and the eradication of poverty, and for building social cohesion, mutual respect and understanding between individuals and groups, in all their diversity.

“I am looking forward to discuss with the Government good practices and achievements, and the remaining challenges in the implementation of cultural rights,” she said.

“During my mission, I will meet with a wide range of actors in the cultural field, including State institutions, academics and artists, as well as civil society representatives, to understand how St Vincent and the Grenadines endeavours to implement cultural rights,” the human rights expert said.

The special rapporteur’s visit will be the first ever to SVG by an independent expert designated by the Human Rights Council.

The UN body established the new mandate in 2009 to identify best practices and obstacles to the implementation of cultural rights, and fostering the adoption of measures aimed at their promotion and protection.

Shaheed is visiting SVG at the invitation of the Government.

She will meet with representatives of Governmental institutions, including senior officials in the areas of culture, education and foreign affairs.

She will also meet with academics, and representatives of communities and civil society organizations.

The expert will visit Kingstown, Fancy, Owia and Sandy Bay and Union Island.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference in Kingstown on Friday, November 9 to share her preliminary conclusions and observations on the visit.

Shaheed has worked for over 25 years promoting and protecting cultural rights by fostering policies and projects designed in culturally sensitive ways to support the rights of marginalized sectors, including women, peasants, and religious and ethnic minorities, the UN said.

She has received several national and international human rights awards, and is an experienced participant in negotiations at international, regional and national levels.