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Legal History and Contemporary Context

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Chapter Summary

The drafting history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reveals the difficulties in dealing with cultural rights. The proposal on cultural genocide in the context of drafting the Genocide Convention at the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly was finally put aside with the argument that the issue of cultural groups would be dealt with by the Third Committee in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The drafting of Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was done with remarkably little debate by comparison to that of Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Women’s human rights have always been the site of the most virulent expressions of cultural relativism. The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance compensated, in a sense, for the overall marginalization of cultural rights by UN bodies until now.

Keywords: cultural relativism; cultural rights; Genocide Convention; racial discrimination; racism; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Women’s human rights; xenophobia



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