Interaction with Prof. Alexandra Xanthaki, UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights
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The Vivekananda International Foundation held an online interaction with Prof. Alexandra Xanthaki, UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights on 14 July 2022. In his Opening Remarks, Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF, gave a brief insight into UN Special Procedures on Human Rights and highlighted the unifying force of culture in India’s political-social landscape. Prof. Xanthaki in her remarks focussed on the definition and scope of Cultural Rights, the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights including navigating the spectrum between tangible and intangible cultures. In the ensuing discussion, Ambassador Bhaswati Mukherjee (who had served as Chief of Staff to the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner from 1991-1997) and Prof. Sujit Dutta (Distinguished Fellow, VIF) emphasized the salience of cultural rights in India and addressed the mischievous narrative of dominant culture being in conflict with minority rights in India. The Indian discussants informed that many recent controversies to do with abrogation of Article 370, Citizenship Amendment Act etc. have fundamentally to do with protection of cultural rights for marginalized minorities.

A major point of discussion was the blurring of lines between culture and religion, however, Prof Xanthaki enumerated her discomfort with impinging on the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Religion as well as her desire to highlight importance of culture beyond religion. Dr Gupta summed up the proceedings with many initiatives and legislations by the government of India to protect cultural rights and cultural diversity, including extending his support for a state visit by Prof Xanthaki to India.

Event Date 
July 14, 2022

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