Advocacy statements

Importance of Freedom of Artistic Expression in Context of Covid-19

  • Date / 2020
  • Location / Chile
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


International Humanist and Ethical Union

44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (30 June 2020 to 17 July 2020)

Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression


We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report on freedom of opinion and expression in the context of disease pandemics. We fully concur with his pointing to access to information, independent media and other free expression rights as critical to meeting the challenges pandemics bring.

In addition, and in complementarity with his planned report on artistic expression, we would like to highlight the role of free expression in the arts in tackling the challenges of COVID-19.

Whilst artistic creativity is necessary for social connection and resilience, the physical distancing necessitated by COVID-19 has come at a great price for both artists and audiences.

As observed recently by the head of UNESCO “art has the power to unite and connect in times of crisis.”[1] Yet, an increase in censorship, compounded by lack of funding and restrictions on performance and interaction, has led to a widespread denial of freedom of artistic expression.

Three examples since the pandemic began:

In this time of heightened fear, of enforced isolation and loss, we argue that the arts and the free expression they depend upon have never been more needed.

We would be grateful for any comments the Special Rapporteur has in regard to artistic expression in the COVID-19 context.


[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061802

[2] https://freemuse.org/news/chile-artists-behind-the-audiovisual-project-harassed-online-freemuse/

[3] https://freemuse.org/news/organisations-denounce-numerous-arbitrary-arrests-restrictions-and-internet-service-cuts-that-aim-to-prevent-demonstrations-against-police-violence-in-cuba/

Suggested academic reference

'Importance of Freedom of Artistic Expression in Context of Covid-19', Humanists International

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