JJUS00007U Cultural rights: A promising global discourse? (IARU course)

Volume 2020/2021

Migration and advances in technology have increased the level of cultural exchange and intermingling, but they have also fostered cultural clashes and incompatibilities that were previously masked by distance. Can cultural rights become a global discourse for supporting inclusive social and political development, and for fostering intercultural dialogue for the mutual understanding of cultures? And can cultural rights become a prime mover by providing a much-needed cultural legitimacy for human rights?

Cultural rights have traditionally been underappreciated. There is support for these rights in the International Bill of Human Rights. The UDHR contains two articles of relevance – Article 26 on the right to education and Article 27 on the right to participate in cultural life and in scientific progress. The same is true for the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which mentions the right to education in Article 13, and cultural participation, the right to benefit from scientific progress and artists’ rights in Article 15. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes the right of minorities to enjoy their own culture and to use their own language in Article 27. UNESCO has produced both soft law within several distinct areas of cultural rights and policy – the right to education, linguistic rights, traditional culture and folklore, and cultural diversity – and binding treaties relevant to the area of cultural rights such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and to the protection of cultural heritage, both material and immaterial.

This course will take a multidisciplinary approach to cultural rights, exposing students to fields outside their respective core disciplines of study and will use the multinational nature of the students attending to focus on the national versus the global perspective.
Among the topics focused on in the course are copyright and patents; speech and culture, including religion; and the relationship between global, national and local law.

Learning Outcome

Students should develop general skills in:

  • Applying relevant theories, methods and tools (legal as well as non-legal) to current problems in the study of cultural rights;
  • Identifying, analyzing and understanding the potential of and the challenges that threaten cultural rights;
  • Negotiating between the universal and the relative, as well as between the individual and the collective;
  • Contributing to the new and developing field of cultural rights;
  • Using law in an interdisciplinary and international context.

The course is relevant for all law students – but especially for students who are interested in working in the cultural context or sector (with museums and other cultural heritage institutions, with publishing, the media, and/or with the arts).

Helle Porsdam, The Transformig Power of Cultural Rights: A Promising Law and Humanities Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2019) – available via REX.


Farida Shaheed, Reports from her appointment as UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


Karima Bennoune:


Aprox. 250 pages.

Students who have obtained a bachelor degree within Law, Anthropology, Ethnology, History, Literature, and Political Science with an interest in cultural rights are encouraged to apply.
The course is offered as part of IARU Courses http:/​/​www.iaruni.org/​for-students/​iaru-courses. Students enrolled in the course will therefore come from universities from around the world.
A social programme compliments the formal programme and all students are strongly encouraged to participate in all elements. The course is scheduled from Wednesday 1 July to Friday 17 July.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • Total
  • 206,25
Not relevant
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Oral exam without preparation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

July 16, 2021


August 26-27, 2021