Thursday, February 7, 2013
Room J-347 Hirsch Hall
Chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights William A. Schabas will present "Human Rights and Culture."
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) speaks of “the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community” as well as of the right “to enjoy the arts.” The notion of “cultural life” is reaffirmed in one of the two main treaties to flow from the Declaration, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, without reference to “the arts.” There is a tendency to confine the scope of “cultural rights” to the protection of various attributes of the lives of ethnic minorities. The long-neglected association between human rights, culture and the arts is the subject of the lecture. It will reflect upon the aspirational dimension of the culture and the arts, espoused by Matthew Arnold in the nineteenth century, including the concern that this may be an elitist vision ill suited to the egalitarianism of modern human rights.
William Schabas, who is a professor of international law at Middlesex University London, is an internationally respected expert on human rights law, genocide and the death penalty and is a prolific author. He has often been invited to participate in international human rights missions on behalf of non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International (International Secretariat) and the International Federation of Human Rights and served as a member of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2002 to 2004.