Article 27:
Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.


Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prescribes the enjoyment of cultural rights; it insists, that is, that everyone has the right to participate in all forms of cultural life. As such, the article reflects one of the most important purposes and principles of the United Nations as described in the UN Charter Article 1(3).

Article 27 deals with cultural rights with the exception of the right to education, dealt with in Article 26. The two paragraphs of Article 27 consider separate aspects of cultural rights. Paragraph 1 concerns the enjoyment of rights and can be interpreted as prescribing both group rights and individual rights. Paragraph 2, on the other hand, clearly prescribes individual rights. The Declaration does not have a separate article devoted to the rights of members of minority ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups.1

The exegesis of the second paragraph involves two ways of looking at intellectual property. One way makes this right look, to some extent, like a human right.

1. Johannes Morsink, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting, and Intent (1999) 335.

Adapted from Goran Melander in Asbjorn Eide et al, Eds., The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Commentary (1992) 429-30.