UN study will explore effect of advertising on cultural rights

A new study will investigate the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights.

Launched by the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, the report will look at the effect of these practices on cultural diversity and human rights.

The Special Rapporteur will seek to identify the main challenges and obstacles posed by advertising and marketing practices to the enjoyment of cultural rights, including the right to education, the right to artistic freedom, and the right to enjoy and access cultural heritage.

Shaheed will assess the impact of commercial sponsorship on academic and artistic freedoms, as well as on the content of gallery and museum exhibitions.

She said: ‘One underlying problem relates to the impact that advertising and marketing practices may have on cultural diversity and the right of people to choose their way of life.

‘The modification of our cultural and symbolic landscapes through billboards or screens, the increasing encroachment of advertising on our public space and the intrusion of advertising in schools and universities are among the concerns I intend to address in this report.’

A series of meetings with experts in New York has established the basis for the UN study.

Shaheed is also reaching out to all UN Member States and interested parties to seek their views, for instance relating to the use of private data for commercial purposes, the use of ‘neuromarketing’ or behavioural targeting, and possible regulation to differentiate commercial speech from non-commercial speech.

Shaheed continued: ‘Many ethical and human rights issues are at stake. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms that can ensure a variety of narratives and values in the public space and through mass media, beyond what is often referred to as commercial culture.’

The Special Rapporteur’s study will be made available online in Autumn 2014, during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

A questionnaire for interested parties is available here, with a deadline of 16 March.