ECF, “the Connected Action for the Commons network and the City of Madrid gathered fifty changemakers from wider Europe in Madrid in March. During three days they met one another, they met with peers and they worked on their idea”[1]. Among these “changemakers” were Mondher Tounsi (Tunisia) and Beatriz Barreiro (Spain) in name of ConArte Internacional. Mondher and Beatriz, as part of these fifty changemakers where selected among more than 600 applicants for the participation in the Idea Camp. It is important to note that the idea itself of the “Idea Camp” promotes the dialogue trough cultural activities among people of different origins, from Europe and neighbour   countries (Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria…)  thus, contributing to fight against fundamentalist and extremists ideologies. The 2017 Idea Camp topic was precisely “Moving Communities.” It took place after “an open call for daring ideas to build societies with greater equality, sustainability and solidarity, and a stronger sense of social justice.” As the ECF explains, it is about communities on the move, communities in flux and also the power of people to “move” their communities through their progressive and creative ideas”.[2]

Mondher Tounsi’s  idea presented at the Idea Camp in Madrid was “Kasserine Catalyst,” the creation of “a cultural incubator in Kasserine [(Tunisia)] where young people can spend time away from violent and marginalised communities. This space will be equipped with intellectual stimulus, entertainment and technological needs and will also serve as a host for youth initiatives and conferences. The revenues will help local women who live in remote areas; they will be trained to weave carpets and traditional clothes to support themselves, feel a sense of belonging to the community and avoid offers from terrorist organisations.”[3]

For her part Beatriz Barreiro’s idea, in name ConArte- and prepared together with Gemma Carbó- was “Cultural Rights are Human Rights: Arts and Education for Inclusion”. As she explained “social cohesion of European societies is at risk… misconceptions concerning cultural identities is an essential factor. If economic factors linked to the financial crisis are important, social reactions responding to this crisis very often identify “the other” as the source of current problems. Growing populism uses simplistic arguments allocating an artificial, homogenous and static identity to “the other”. The only sustainable path to constructing inclusive societies is through the acknowledgement of “the other” in all his/her human dignity, including his/her cultural identity.”  She explained that “Cultural Rights are Human Rights” “want to contribute to building this path through the developing a conceptual reflection with a practical application that serves two interlinked goals: First, the development of a framework for an inclusive and effective teaching kit on “cultural rights” and the designing of training workshops for teachers. Secondly, the discovery of new ways for designing intercultural artistic education workshops enabling interactions between children of diverse cultures”[4].

During the Idea Camp Beatriz Barreiro and Mondher Tounsi had the opportunity to exchange ideas and they discovered several essential points in common. Being Beatriz a specialist in cultural rights and Mondher a human rights activist, it was clear for them that Casserine Katalyst and “Cultural Rights are Human Righs” were both–even if in Casserine Katalyst was not explicitly said- tools for the exercise of cultural rights of young people. Also, it was clear that such cultural life was understood as a tool for counterbalance hate, extremism and xenophobia.


After the Idea Camp [ECF] invited these fifty “idea makers” “to develop project proposals on their idea. ECF could grant twenty-five of them with a research and development grant.” There was the possibility for the “idea makers” to join another “idea maker” and apply together for the research and development grant. ECF fosters this kind of actions, because of the dialogue and exchange they create. Mondher and Beatriz decided to join their ideas into one sole proposal, which, besides including both ideas, added some transversal issues: the intercultural dialogue together with the knowledge exchange on cultural rights, taking into account that Mondher, besides being a human rights activist is a Law student. This is how “A Tunisian-Spanish Bridge for Counteracting Violent Extremism and Xenophobia through the Right to Take Part in Cultural Life” was originated.


Creating this team allows us to address a something which would be impossible to deal with in a separate way: the basic preventive mechanisms of the construction of manipulated individual and social identities. In fact, as Jean-Claude Kaufmann explains, such manipulation is present both within xenophobic groups (including political parties in Europe and outside) and terrorist groups (like ISIS), both presenting distorted image of identities which are compared by Kaufmann with “ticking time bombs”. The mechanism, as he explains, is in both cases the same. Through this join idea/project we want to contribute to “deactivate” such “bombs” through bringing bridges between individuals and peoples. This is going to be done both through the sharing of knowledge of how people really live their moving and diverse identities -which, in this terms, are at the core of the protection of “cultural rights as human rights”- and through the art, the social life, the “having fun together.”


In fact the hypothesis of depart of the project is that Cultural Rights (and more specifically the right to take part in cultural life -RTPCL-) are an antidote for hate,  extremism and fundamentalism. The rationale of the project, as we explained to the ECF, is that of two organs of United Nations: The Special Rapporteur (SR) on Cultural Rights, and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) Committee who offers, through a General Comment (GC) on the RTPCL –established in article 15.1.a) of the International Covenant on ESCR- a contemporary, dynamic, open an inclusive meaning of this right in a way that its exercise can foster social cohesion within and among communities and societies. Our project explains that for decades, cultural rights have been considered as something which tended to essentialism peoples’ life, giving priority to the community’s culture over the individual person. Framing our proposal in this cultural rights’ approach offer us conceptual advantages: It allow us to focus on dynamic and contemporary aspects of cultural rights which are essential for our proposal, such as the consideration of culture as something “living” and ludic and the participation of people: It is not “culture” who determines peoples’ life but the other way round.