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Cultural rights

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Title: Cultural rights  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Cultural studies, Culture, Sociology of culture, Mediation Cabal/Cases/2007-01-02 Mami Wata, Porto Alegre Manifesto
Collection: Cultural Studies, Human Rights
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cultural rights

The cultural rights movement has provoked attention to protect the rights of groups of people, or their culture, in similar fashion to the manner in which the human rights movement has brought attention to the needs of individuals throughout the world.


  • Protecting a culture 1
  • Ethnic Groups Cultural preservation 2
  • Cultural Bigotry 3
  • References 4

Protecting a culture

Cultural Rights are rights related to art and culture, both understood in a large sense. The objective of these rights is to guarantee that people and communities have an access to culture and can participate in the culture of their election. Cultural rights are human rights that aim at assuring the enjoyment of culture and its components in conditions of equality, human dignity and non-discrimination. They are rights related to themes such as language; cultural and artistic production; participation in cultural life; cultural heritage; intellectual property rights; author’s rights; minorities and access to culture, among others. Focusing less on the preservation of cultures as an end in itself and more on the realization of "ecological" relations between groups as a condition for equitable interactions and the potential for organic cultural change, Greg Meyjes proposes the concept of cultural justice [1][2] in this context.

Ethnic Groups Cultural preservation

Cultural rights of groups focus on such things as religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous societies that are in danger of disappearing. Cultural rights include a group’s ability to preserve its way of life, such as child rearing, continuation of language, and security of its economic base in the nation, which it is located. The related notion of indigenous intellectual property rights (IPR) has arisen in attempt to conserve each society’s culture base and essentially prevent ethnocide.

The cultural rights movement has been popularized because much traditional cultural knowledge has commercial value, like ethno-medicine, cosmetics, cultivated plants, foods, folklore, arts, crafts, songs, dances, costumes, and rituals. Studying ancient cultures may reveal evidence about the history of the human race and shed more light on our origin and successive cultural development. However, the study, sharing and commercialization of such cultural aspects can be hard to achieve without infringing upon the cultural rights of those who are a part of that culture.

Cultural rights should be taken into consideration also by local policies. In that sense, the Agenda 21 for culture, the first document with worldwide mission that advocates establishing the groundwork of an undertaking by cities and local governments for cultural development, includes as cultural rights as one of the principles and states: “Local governments recognize that cultural rights are an integral part of human rights, taking as their reference the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)”.[3]

Cultural Bigotry

"Cultural rights are vested not in individuals but in groups, such as religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous societies." All cultures are brought up differently, therefore cultural rights include a group's ability to preserve its culture, to raise its children in the ways its forebears, to continue its language, and to not be deprived of its economic base by the nation in which it is located." Anthropologist sometimes choose not to study some cultures beliefs and rights, because they believe that it may cause misbehavior, and they choose not to turn against different diversities of cultures. Although anthropologist sometimes do turn away from studying different cultures they still depend a lot on what they study at different archaeological sites.


  1. ^ Meyjes 1999, p. 9
  2. ^ Meyjes 2012, p. 407
  3. ^ Agenda 21 for culture
  • Meyjes, Gregory Paul P. (1999). "Language and Universalization: a ‘Linguistic Ecology’ Reading of Bahá’í Writ". The Journal of Bahá’í Studies. Volume IX (1). Ottawa: Association for Bahá’í Studies. pp. 51–63. 
  • Meyjes, Gregory Paul P. (2012). "Multi-Ethnic Conflicts in U.S. Military Theatres Overseas: Intercultural Imperatives". In Franke, Volker; Dorff, Robert H. Conflict Management: A Tool for U.S. National Security Strategy (PDF). Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. pp. 381–438. 
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