Arts Rights Justice Working Group

Arts Rights Justice Working Group

February 27, 2015, 11:07 pm

Arts Rights Justice, ARJ, is an independent cross-sector working group (arts and human rights) set up in 2012 under the framework of the civil society dialogue platform, “Access to Culture”.

ARJ members representing over 30 EU and international associations, NGOs and networks from arts, free speech and human rights sectors collaborated during three years. ARJ is now working under the framework of Culture Action Europe (CAE) for the period 2014-2016, and currently powered by CAE.

ARJ advocates for artistic freedom, human rights and social justice within the specific field of the arts sector.

ARJ’s original mandate was to make policy recommendations to the EC and the EU’s Member States, and to highlight new trends pertinent to their policy making.
Now, together with Culture Action Europe, a focus will be strengthening the capacity of the arts sector to know and defend their rights and the rights of individual artists, within the scope of international and EU-level treaties, EU accords with Third Countries and EU and Member States’ development activities.

In short, ARJ aims to encourage greater understanding in public spheres of the interaction between culture and human rights in upholding democratic principles. We wish to improve compliance with human rights provisions relating to culture and freedom to speech.

ARJ is concerned that:
– participation in the arts, and freedom of artistic expression is an individual human right and a collective cultural right which, despite international treaties, is frequently denied or repressed, in the EU or in countries with which the EU has special relations and that
– artists’ and culture workers’ human rights are increasingly abused in EU and EU partner countries, when the situation which occurs more and more frequently as artists express their reactions to a world in which economic values have come to dominate over humanistic values.

ARJ’s previous activities From 20112-2013, ARJ held internal workshops to share knowledge of the relevant fields and thus raise our own capacities and identify actions to support. We presented the work of the group to potential political allies and culminated our first two years by organising a presentation in the European Parliament by the UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, of her UN Report, “The Right to Freedom of Creative Expression”.
ARJ presented its own demands, based on the Shaheed Report, to the 68 participants there, including EP, EC and other important delegates. For this event, ARJ gathered 11 two-minute videos by artists illustrating the importance of support for artists whose work speaks truth to power and upholds social justice, and they dangers they face.

ARJ has written a Public Toolkit Public Toolkit in 2016 for artists, cultural workers and organisations facing violations of artistic freedom, and for arts associations, networks and cultural organisations that may already have or want to have a role in protecting artists and artistic freedom, as well as for human rights and free speech NGOs that are working on protecting artists and artistic freedom.

We are currently working on a companion, a small booklet of about 50 pages, which can be downloaded and printed. This companion is based on the current toolkit, and will serve as a handout to take with you after or use alongside a training.

Please contact if you are interested in a training through ARJ based on our public toolkit, or for general inquiries.


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