Report of the Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights

In this report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights considers the impact commercial advertising and marketing practices have on the enjoyment of cultural rights, with a particular focus on freedom of thought, opinion and expression, cultural diversity and ways of life, the rights of children with respect to education and leisure, academic and artistic freedom and the right to participate in cultural life and to enjoy the arts.

Examining new trends in advertising and marketing strategies, the Special Rapporteur is concerned by the increasingly blurred line between commercial advertising and other content, especially in the areas of culture and education. An overall concern relates to the disproportionate presence of commercial advertising and marketing in public spaces, the myriad advertisements and marketing messages people receive daily, the dissemination of such communications using a large variety of media in a systematic and integrated way and the resort to techniques aimed at circumventing individual rational decision-making.

The report concludes that States should protect people from undue levels of commercial advertising and marketing while increasing the space for not-for-profit expressions. Within the framework of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and based on the view that commercial messaging may be granted less protection than other forms of speech, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States regulate the area more effectively. Of particular note is the recommendation to ban all commercial advertising and marketing in public and private schools.