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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.

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Globalization and cultural choice

When historians write of the world’s recent history, they are likely to reflect on two trends: the advance of globalization and the spread of democracy. Globalization has been the more contentious, because it has effects both good and bad, and democracy has opened space for people to protest the bad effects. So, controversies rage over the environmental, economic and social consequences of globalization. But there is another domain of globalization, that of culture and identity, which is just as controversial and even more divisive because it engages ordinary people, not just economists, government officials and political activists.

English

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