Liberty, Equality, Diversity: States, Cultures and International Law
Ana Filipa Vrdoljak. "Liberty, Equality, Diversity: States, Cultures and International Law" The Cultural Dimension of Human Rights Law. Ed. Ana Filipa Vrdoljak. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp.26-70
46 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2013 Last revised: 20 Nov 2014
Date Written: December 3, 2012
This chapter explores how culture is addressed by contemporary international law, with particular reference to human rights law norms. The first part covering freedom focuses on the rise of the modern state and its conscious reimagining of ties with its citizens through the promotion of tolerance and a secular, national identity. The shift is explored through the prisms of the freedom of religion, the right to participate in (national) cultural life, and the limitations on freedom of expression including prohibition of hate speech and domestic blasphemy laws. The second part on equality centres on the relationship between the state, the group and its individuals by moving beyond the strictures of tolerance to the fostering of non-discrimination not only in respect of civil and political rights but cultural rights also. This transformation of the right to a culture to the right to one’s own culture is examined through the right to self-identification, non-discrimination, and minority protections and cultural rights in international law. The third and final part concentrates on the embrace of cultural diversity by the international community as a common good. The promotion of diversity is considered at the state level through the implementation of cultural pluralism, at the international level through the sanctioning of voluntary isolation and secession of groups, and at the group level, through the protection of individual human rights and equality.
Keywords: culture, international law, international human rights law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, equality, non-discrimination, cultural diversity
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation