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UNESCO has issued a report calling for greater protection for artists caught up in armed conflict, political instability, and natural disasters. The report, titled "Defending Creative Voices," highlights the alarming number of artists who have been killed, imprisoned or suffered violations of artistic freedom worldwide in 2021. According to data from the NGO Freemuse, a record 39 artists were killed in 12 countries, and 119 were imprisoned in 24 countries in 2021 https://en.unesco.org/.
The report recommends new monitoring and emergency assistance policies for artists at risk, urging countries to develop tailored assistance to protect and promote artistic freedom during emergencies, building on UNESCO’s experience in protecting artists during conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine, and Yemen. The study also calls for UN-wide monitoring of artistic freedom in emergency contexts, highlighting the need for support, safety, and protection of artists, as well as artworks and cultural spaces.
UNESCO has announced a new investment of $1 million to finance projects supporting artistic freedom in more than 25 countries. The funds will support government-led and NGO projects that will benefit countries such as Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire, Chile, Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Mongolia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, as well as civil society organizations based in countries such as Georgia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and South Sudan.
The report underscores the importance of strengthening legal frameworks, with better legal recognition of the status of the artist, and capacity building for judicial and legal professions to protect artists through investigations and prosecutions. It also highlights the need for emergency practical measures such as training on artistic freedom, temporary financial assistance for culture professionals, expedited issuance of visas, and prioritization of artists within evacuation and resettlement programs with specific attention to women creators.