Human Development Report 2004

Cultural Liberty in Today's Diverse World

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Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World argues that states must actively devise multicultural policies to prevent discrimination on cultural grounds – religious, ethnic and linguistic. The Report states that the expansion of cultural freedoms, not suppression, is the only sustainable option to promote stability, democracy and human development within and across societies. Its overarching message is to highlight the vast potential of building a more peaceful, prosperous world by brining issues of culture to the mainstream of development thinking and practice. In delivering it’s message, the Report debunks the myths that have been used to deny expansions of cultural freedoms, showing that diversity is not a threat to state unity, not the source of inevitable clashes and not an obstacle to development.



Overview: Cultural liberty in today’s diverse world

How will the new constitution of Iraq satisfy demands for fair representation for Shiites and Kurds? Which—and how many—of the languages spoken in Afghanistan should the new constitution recognize as the official language of the state? How will the Nigerian federal court deal with a Sharia law ruling to punish adultery by death? Will the French legislature approve the proposal to ban headscarves and other religious symbols in public schools? Do Hispanics in the United States resist assimilation into the mainstream American culture? Will there be a peace accord to end fighting in Côte d’Ivoire? Will the President of Bolivia resign after mounting protests by indigenous people? Will the peace talks to end the Tamil-Sinhala conflict in Sri Lanka ever conclude? These are just some headlines from the past few months. Managing cultural diversity is one of the central challenges of our time.


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