30 December 2013

Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
Place de Fontenoy 7
75007 Paris

Recognition of Bullfighting as Cultural Heritage

Dear Members of the Committee,

The image of the UN structure represents her commitment to peace, unity, protection and relief of suffering. We understand that UNESCO is committed to the material and immaterial protection, preservation and promotion of cultural treasures of “general interest to humanity” as mentioned under Art.19.2 of your Convention.
We define humanity as more peaceful and elevated than providing amusement by a variety of festive events exclusively dedicated to traditional abuse, torture and killing of the animals involved. We know that such events are harmful to the physical and mental health of participants and witnesses of all ages alike. Bullfighting may unjustly be legalized or condoned but we find no legal, ethical, religious, artistic or educational justification for ritually inflicted suffering.
Given the continuous global efforts of the UN – condemning violence and cruelty – to stop the suffering in conflict zones, we assume that our call to “Stop Suffering” rings a bell at UNESCO.

We are informed that the tradition of bullfighting is presented for recognition by your Committee as Cultural Heritage, presumably defined under Art.2.2.b/c of your Convention.
As we notice in your Convention, your frame of reference on Human Rights includes economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. These human rights aspects are insufficient to assess controversial issues that are clearly detrimental to the rights of animals and/or nature.
In our view Cultural Heritage reaches beyond the Human Rights scope and we trust that UNESCO shares our view that – although it rarely if ever gets priority – humanity and rights include ethical or moral human standards for all species.

Regarding Cultural Heritage we have no objection whatever to culture and tradition per se, but we draw a line beyond dispute at suffering, especially if the suffering is intentional and for amusement.
If suffering is conditional to its sustenance, bullfighting is not meeting any valid standard for globally acclaimed cultural heritage – beside being a tradition – to preserve, let alone honor and promote bullfighting in the general interest of humanity. We call on you to take our argument in consideration.

With kind regards,

Drs P.M. Donker

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