Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
Call for local, provincial, regional or international advocacy projects on abuses of/increased respect for cultural rights and for rights of artists and cultural operators from or working with minorities
Deadline: 29 May 2016
We are looking to fund advocacy projects focusing on abuses of/increased respect for cultural rights and for rights of artists and cultural operators from or working with ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (including refugees). Each project should aim to influence relevant instances (international or regional) and/or decision makers in each country.
In the framework of the European Union (EU) funded regional programme “MedCulture”, Minority Rights Group International, in partnership with the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, the Civic Forum Institute Palestine, and Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, is currently seeking proposals from civil society organizations for the advocacy section of the “Drama, Diversity and Development” project (DDD).
The DDD project is one of three culture projects funded by the EU within the regional programme “MedCulture”, which aims to support the efforts of the Southern Mediterranean countries in building deep-rooted democracy and to contribute to their sustainable economic, social and human development, through regional co-operation in the field of culture. It supports activities fostering cultural policy reform and reinforcing the capacity of cultural policy makers, as well as promoting investment and the development of cultural operators’ business capabilities.
Selected projects, which will last 3 months, will receive grants between €5,000 and €10,000.
Grants will cover staff time, as well as direct costs (including potentially travel outside the target countries to e.g. Geneva or New York or to an African Commission event if international advocacy is part of the project).
Project countries and examples of relevant minorities
All applicant organisations must be currently registered in and must have been established (as demonstrated in the organisation’s statutes) in one of the project countries listed below. Definitions of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities are complex and contested and are specific to each context. Possible indications of some relevant minorities per country is given in brackets after each country:
- Morocco (eg. Berber/Amazigh, Black Africans, religious minorities, refugees, migrants, and other similar groups)
- Algeria (eg. Berber/Amazigh, Black Africans, religious minorities, refugees, migrants, and other similar groups)
- Tunisia (eg. Berber/Amazigh, Black Africans, religious minorities, refugees, migrants, and other similar groups)
- Libya (eg. Berber/Amazigh, Toubou, Touareg, Black Africans, religious minorities, refugees, migrants, and other similar groups)
- Egypt (eg. Nubians, Bedouins, religious minorities, refugees, migrants, and other similar groups)
- Jordan (eg. refugees, Bedouins, Palestinians, religious minorities, and other similar groups)
- Lebanon (eg. refugees, Armenians, Palestinians, recognised and unrecognised religious minorities, and other similar groups)
- Palestine (eg. refugees, internally displaced people, religious minorities and others facing discrimination).
- Israel (eg. Arab Israelis, Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and other similar groups)
- Syrian non-governmental organisations are also eligible to apply (although due to the current security context, this is likely to be for work with refugees outside Syria, but in another eligible programme country).
All applicants must be able to show that they can deliver the project safely and without undue risks to project staff, and other participants involved taking into consideration the security context in the country concerned.
The applicant must be non-profit.
Our team must be able to legally transfer funding to your organisation without constraints. Your organisation must be eligible to legally receive funding from abroad without constraint or requiring the permission of a Ministry or Government body for each grant.
Preference will be given to projects that concern barriers and problems that affect the ability of cultural operators from or working with excluded minority communities to carry out cultural activities and to use culture as a tool for wider social and economic development of their communities.
Also, you must not be in a case excluded from receiving EU funding. (See situations listed in Section 2.3.3. of the Practical Guide to contract procedures for EU external actions (available from the following Internet address: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prag/)
Eligible themes and examples of projects
Cultural rights are a category of human rights aiming at ensuring that all people without discrimination can freely access, participate and contribute to cultural life. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to Minorities, and they are protected by a number of international treaties, at the international and regional levels.
Applied to minorities and indigenous peoples, cultural rights include the following elements:
- Right of access to cultural activities:
° States must ensure the affordability and accessibility of cultural centres, libraries, museums, theatres etc. to the widest possible audience, without discrimination
° States must remove barriers to equal participation to cultural life (redress regional disparities, make culture accessible to all)
° States must preserve cultural heritage (take measures to safeguard artwork, monuments, archaeological sites)
- Right to contribute to cultural life: right to disseminate creative work and traditional cultural expressions (e.g. songs, music, paintings, stories, mythologies, clothing, food, ritual practices and other expression of a group identity), in the language of one’s choice, without unjustified censorship, destruction of artwork and cultural products, harassment of creators… This right also includes the right to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which a person is the author.
- Right of minorities and of persons belonging to minorities to conserve, promote and develop their own culture. This right entails the obligation of States to recognize, respect and protect minority cultures as an essential component of the identity of states themselves. Minorities have the right to their cultural diversity, traditions, customs, religion, forms of education, languages, communication media (press, radio, television, Internet) and other manifestations of their cultural identity and membership. The protection of the cultural rights of a minority can include the preservation of a language, traditional practices and a particular way of life (ex: activities related to a land, especially for indigenous communities).
Examples of violations of cultural rights include (the list is non-exhaustive):
- Prohibiting the teaching of a certain language
- Prohibiting the teaching of elements of a certain culture (songs, stories, traditions…)
- Impeding the public display of some traditional practice, including religious rites, unless it is justified by the necessity to protect public safety order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights of others, and in conformity with human rights law
- Promoting negative stereotypes of a certain minority culture in school
- Banning or censoring an exhibition, a show, a concert while relying on discriminatory and/or illegitimate reasons under human rights law
- The destruction of historic or cultural heritage sites
- A discriminatory practice consisting in maintaining only sites, shrines and monuments belonging to a certain culture or religion
- A discriminatory allocation of resources for libraries or cultural centres which reduces the access to culture for part of the population, living in certain areas of the country.
Examples of advocacy activities:
Grants will be for local, provincial, regional and/or international advocacy campaigns which could include roundtable meetings, awareness raising events, one to one meetings with officials or politicians, adverts, online campaigns, media campaigns, collection and presentation of evidence of abuses, including short films and reports, shadow reports or submissions to e.g. special rapporteurs or similar mechanisms or any other similar work aiming to raise awareness and/or change policy or implementation in this area.
Preference will be given to projects that have a clear goal to work towards change of a discriminatory or exclusionary practice. Preference will also be given to projects addressing practices that impact on the ability of cultural operators to carry out their work. Projects that limit their goal to raising awareness of an issue are less likely to be selected.
Examples of advocacy activities include (the list below is indicative and not exhaustive):
1) At the national level:
- Campaign to change law or practice in relation to the violation of a specific right and its consequence on the population affected (public meetings, exhibition, interview with the national media)
- Work to sensitize relevant and influential rights groups or bodies (local or national associations, NGOs, the Ombudsman or the national human rights commission) to your issue, and incite them to advocate for your cultural rights as part of their work
- Arrange meetings with relevant Ministries, state or local authorities in order to discuss your issue and put forward specific demands
2) At the regional level (only for project countries members of the African Union):
- Submit a communication to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
- Submit a report on your issue if your country is under review
- Go to the Commission to meet relevant African Commission experts and raise your issue
- Engage with the UNESCO field offices in Rabat, Cairo or Beirut, in order to bring your issue to their attention and participate in the activities they organize, with a view to advocate for concrete changes in the law, policies and practices.
3) At the United Nations level:
- Submit a report to a UN human rights mechanism which will be in a position to issue a recommendation or engage in a constructive dialogue with your country on your issue (for a list of relevant bodies and opportunities for submission, see Annex)
- Travel to Geneva to brief UN experts on your issue, and submit information so that they can take action
- Travel to Geneva to meet diplomatic missions, in order to share information about your issue and suggestions of recommendations that could be addressed to your country in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (see Annex).
Please note that your advocacy strategy can either revolve around one activity, linked to a specific objective, or comprise several complementary activities, and can articulate different levels (local, national, regional, international advocacy) in the pursuit of your advocacy goal.
How to submit an application
All applications should include the following:
- Statutes of the organization
- Summary description of the NGO, its goals, activities and resources. (1 page)
- Proposed methodology for the advocacy project, including a description of the specific cultural rights issue that the activity aims at changing, the objective of the advocacy activity / activities, what activities should be put in place to meet this objective, what would be the resources needed and the timeframe (minimum 1 page, maximum 3 pages). The advocacy plan should focus on clear concrete outcomes with a well thought through strategy, taking into consideration the resources, the capacities of the organization, the national / local context in which the organization would operate and the advocacy opportunities that could be used in that context.
- Detailed project budget.
- Samples of previous similar work if relevant.
We encourage applicants to submit these documents in English although we will also accept applications in Arabic or French.
Please send the complete application by May 29th, 2016, 12 PM GMT to firstname.lastname@example.org Please include “advocacy” and the name of the country your project will cover in the subject line.
A three member evaluation committee will be established to consider bids for each country, including a senior member of MRG’s advocacy team, the project coordinator, and advisers with knowledge of local contexts.
Shortlisted projects will be contacted by Mid-June 2016.
Selection criteria that we will use in assessing proposals
Each criteria is worth 20% of the final grade.
Relevance (the issue should be clearly a local cultural rights issue)
Clarity of the concept, objectives and strategy
Projects that seize advocacy opportunities (please see the section: Opportunities for UN advocacy, mid-2016 to 2017)
Realistic target(s) and capacity to deliver: goals and planned activities should be commensurate to the resources, capacities and previous experiences of the organization
Strength of the link with the minority
Opportunities for advocacy at the UN and regional levels (mid-2016 to 2017)
- At the United Nations level
UN advocacy opportunities all year round:
|UN mechanism||Date of session||Country reviewed||Dates and types of advocacy activities|
|UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)||Aug 2016||Lebanon||Submission of a report (Deadline = 11 July 2016)
Briefing during the session
|UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)||Sept – Oct 2016||Lebanon, Tunisia||Submission of a report (Deadline = 29 August 2016)
Briefing during the session
|UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Oct 2016 / May 2017||Lebanon||Submission of a report (Deadline = 1 July 2016)
Briefing in October 2016
|UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR)||Oct – Nov 2016||Morocco||Submission of a report (Deadline = mid-September 2016)
Briefing during the session
|Universal Periodic Review||Oct – Nov 2016||Syria||Circulation of an advocacy to key state delegations
Advocacy trip to meet state Missions to the UN and share recommendations
|UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)||Feb – Mar 2017||Jordan||Submission of a report (Deadline = late January 2017)
Briefing during the session
2) At the regional level
The UNESCO can also be approached through its regional offices in Rabat (for Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), Cairo (for Egypt and Libya) and Beirut (for Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine). Their network of partners, their relationship with states at the bilateral and regional levels and the numerous events, activities and projects they run can be used as leverages to advocate for concrete changes in law, policies and practices.
For more information, see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/worldwide/arab-states/
And the activities of their regional field offices at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/bfc/all-offices/
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is another regional mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights that can be used by NGOs from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The African Commission is the main organ of the African Union in charge of the promotion, protection and interpretation of human rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Commission holds two sessions a year, in April/May and in October/November. NGOs can engage with the African Commission through different means:
- Participate in country reviews by advocating at the NGO Forums held prior to every ACHPR session (see list of most recent reports submitted to the Commission here: http://www.achpr.org ). NGOs can send information and suggestions of questions and issues to raise to the Commissioner in charge of the country, prior to the review. More information on this process: http://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/article/files/roadmap_english.pdf
- Send communications on specific violations of the African Charter to the African Commission (more on the communication process: http://www.achpr.org/communications/procedure/
- Engage with Special Mechanisms (full list here: http://www.achpr.org/mechanisms/ ), by sending specific information to a relevant mechanism (ex: the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, the Working Group on indigenous populations, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of women…). These mechanisms can engage with states and make a progress report on their work at each session of the African Commission.