The UN Is Looking Into Making Cultural Appropriation Illegal

The cultural appropriation vs. appreciation debate is a difficult one to settle: while it comes up every fashion week, festival season or really just any moment at all, many are still unsure about the thin line between the two.

But all this might change soon as the United Nations may be making a move against the appropriation of native cultures - trust a potential lawsuit to make people understand what's right and what's not (as Urban Outfitters learnt the hard way after illegally using the Navajo tribe name in 2012).

Indeed indigenous groups all over the world are calling on the international organisation to take a stand. While a special committee representing such groups has been active and asking for sanctions since 2001, it has actually taken this long for their voice to be heard. 

☄ Marc Jacobs Spring '17 ☄ #MJSS17

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But delegates from 189 countries around the world are now meeting in Geneva to form a specialised international committee within the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and want to get cracking on the matter. 

The committee is pushing for international law changes by expanding international property regulations to include and protect property ranging from designs to language.

Will this put an end to incidents of cultural appropriation? Aroha Te Pareake Mead of the Ngati Awa and Ngati Porou tribes in New Zealand certainly hopes so. She deems that right now "the number of occurrences of misappropriation happening to indigenous peoples in all regions of the world seems relentless with no relief in sight".

We agree! But should this protection only be for indigenous people? We think not. What about Africans and Asians whose cultures are constantly being abused by the next reality star?

Ranging from fashion brands and reality stars such as Marc Jacobs and the Kardashians, to artists like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, many have been accused of cultural appropriation - specifically appropriating black and Asian culture. So it begs the following question...

(Photo: Amandla Stenberg/Affinity Magazine)

(Photo: Amandla Stenberg/Affinity Magazine)

Yet while we know that the process will take time, with the borders of appropriation vs. appreciation still needing to be defined for stubborn goats some, the discussion is now on the table and that is definitely a step in the right direction...we hope.

In the meantime, check out a few more problematic instances of cultural appropriation below and our unsolicited commentary (lol):

But why??

(Allure magazine's questionable beauty advice. Photo: Allure Magazine)

(Allure magazine's questionable beauty advice. Photo: Allure Magazine/Julee Wilson)

Eyes rolling to the back of our skulls...

(Photo: MTV UK Twitter)

(Photo: MTV UK Twitter)

Katy Perry donning Yellowface. Issa Iss NOT a look


(Photo: AMA)

Well she's definitely not a black woman either...

(Photo: NBC)

(Photo: NBC)

Read More -> British Artist, Damien Hirst, Replicates Nigerian Historical Artwork Without Proper Credit

Editor-In-Chief, Konbini Nigeria.