Edited by John Clammer and Jonathan Vickery
In a time of huge religious, political and territorial conflict, the cultural dimensions of place, identity, values, and governance, are all too easily ignored. The last special issue of the Journal of Law, Social Justice and Global Development was concerned with Cultural Rights (Culture and Human Rights). The UN’s webpage on democracy states that “Democracy is a universally recognized ideal and… provides an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights”. This special issue is given to the question of democracy. How have global cultural policies and development policies emerged in part through a quest for the “ideal” of democracy? How do cultural policies operationalise “democratisation” in development situations, or perhaps imagine alternative ideals of democracy, or simulate alternative forms of democratic life (participation, equality, liberty)? The 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, and then the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, both appealed to the values of democracy. But what form of democracy is most effective in their implementation? What happened to the discourse on democracy and development that featured milestone texts like the World Commission on Culture and Development’s Our Creative Diversity (1966), or Towards a Constructive Pluralism (UNESCO, 1999), or Boutros-Ghali’s The Interaction between Democracy and Development (UNESCO, 2002). What happened to the notion that cultural pluralism was a road to democratisation, and why do policies on multiculturalism no longer seem to promise a vibrant participatory “culture” of democracy for the brave new “globalised” world?
This special issue investigates the political nexus of cultural life and the law, creative or artistic activity and permitted actions or statements. Cultural Rights has been a recognised legal concept since before the 1966 UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. However, as the 1966 Covenant demonstrated, separating the cultural from the social and civil is not straightforward, or rather, only apparently straightforward if articulated in terms of anthropological or sociological generalisations, which are not wholly useful. This collection of nine very different papers demonstrate how the ‘culture’ in Cultural Rights must be made specific and analytically useful for a ‘Right’ to be both credible and operational as a legal instrument or set thereof.
The special issue therefore aims to set out the legal terrain of Cultural Rights, interrogate its terms and conditions, and then to put into question how they pertain to specific forms of culture in specific places.
The rise of Gender as subject and object of research in recent years is significant. Gender equality and women’s rights have become central to our concept of social justice. Their significance for development, however, extends beyond the concern for social justice to the organisation of political resistance, solidarity, and civil society. Research in Gender and women has provided new critical frameworks on the very concept of development as well as new intellectual movements calling for the revision of development policy, identifying the how agents of development are so often compromised by patriarchal power, their postcolonial condition and the continued hegemony of the West. In this special issue, six distinct papers tackle a diversity of subjects, from people trafficking to craft markets to children and early marriage — and they all make reference to the centrality of recognition, protection and justice made possible only through a deomcratically determined law and legal system.