The course

Integral part of the Project is the course Cultural Diversity and Human Rights Law taught by Prof. Angelica Bonfanti (IUS 13, 6 ECTS).  

Cultural diversity represents the hallmark of a pluralistic and democratic society. However, some practices based on culture, tradition and religion potentially or really conflict with fundamental human rights – especially of vulnerable groups or individuals.

The course examines the international and European legal framework on cultural diversity and the consistency with fundamental human rights of traditional harmful practices (such as genital mutilations, forced and early marriages, virginity tests, violent initiation rites, traditions related to widowhood, discriminatory practices against women, extreme dietary and food practices, infant begging). Protecting cultural diversity and human rights – and striking a balance between them, when necessary – is indeed a crucial challenge for a multicultural society as ours.

To this aim, the course focuses on the relevant international and European legal framework and the case-law developed by European, international, and domestic courts, in order to provide attendees with the legal background and critical skills to analyse and solve practical and theoretical issues.

Traditional lectures are completed by seminars, workshop, and conferences, involving academics and experts from NGOs, law firms and specialized entities.

The course program includes classes about:
– What is cultural diversity and how it is protected under international and European law
– Human rights protection at the international and European level
– Potential and real conflicts between cultural diversity and human rights. Striking the balance at the European and international level: legal approaches and solutions
– The international and European legal framework and case-law about harmful practices based on culture, tradition and religion, such as forced and early marriages, genital mutilations, infant begging, discriminatory practices against women (e.g. discriminatory inheritance rights and rights to marry or divorce; limited freedom of movement and expression; harmful health and dietary practices; compulsion to wear religious clothing and symbols)
– The protection of cultural diversity and human rights in other regional systems: the Inter-American, African and the Middle East approaches
– European private international legal issues.