Indonesian National Human Rights Commission Embraces Artistic Freedom

The Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), in its new Standard Norms and Setting on Rights to Freedom of Opinions and Expressions, pledges for the freedom of Artistic and Cultural Expressions.  

An extended family of Human Rights, Artistic Freedom as per UNESCO definition is a concept comprising the right (i) to create without intimidation or censorship; (ii) to have artistic work supported, distributed and remunerated; (iii) to freedom of movement; (iv) to freedom of association; (v) to the protection of socio-economic rights; and (vi) to participate in cultural life.

It constitutes one of the monitoring areas of the UNESCO 2005 Convention as a fundamental condition for the diversity of cultural expressions.  However, the concept is new, and the example of government effort is few in Southeast Asia. The observation has led UNESCO to initiate the training of civil society groups in Indonesia in 2019 with the support of the Korean government.    

The Komnas HAM’s new Standard Norms and Setting has a dedicated section on artistic and cultural expressions.  The document recognizes the importance of art for individuals and communities to express the aesthetic sense, convey political views, and affirm beliefs and cultural identity. Komnas HAM is an independent body with the mandate to create enabling condition for everybody to respect and enjoy human rights in Indonesia.

UNESCO welcomes the move, which will significantly boost the mainstreaming of this little-known dimension of Human Rights.  The organization looks forward to collaboration with Komnas HAM to open a new dialogue with the civil society movement and the government institutions to support freedom of opinion and expression and a dynamic art scene.