By Taher Tayseer Al-Masry
The Concept of Cultural Rights: Until now, there is no approved official definition of the concept of "cultural rights", as these rights are related to a wide range of issues that must be protected. Moreover, this concept closely relates to the right to education and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. They include the rights of every person, individually or in association with others, and the rights of groups of people, to practice their humanity and vision of the world and the meanings they give to their existence and development; to express that by all legitimate means, which implies the right to freely participate in cultural life in its broadest sense.
Cultural Rights in International Conventions: The International Law relied in its recognition of cultural rights on several principles based on equality among cultures, rejection of discrimination between nations and peoples, non-recognition of the idea of cultural superiority or hegemony, and the racist concepts on which it is based. This means that when the system of cultural human rights endorses cultural diversity, rights and cultural pluralism, it relies on equality of rights among nations, and considers all cultures as part of the common human heritage of humanity, including their diversity and differences, and the right of every individual to freely participate in the cultural life of society.
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has identified five interrelated and essential features contained in this right, namely: availability, accessibility, acceptability, adaptability, and appropriateness.
Cultural Rights in Domestic Policies and Legislation: The Palestinian Basic Law did not come with a clear, explicit, and separate text on guaranteeing, protecting, and implementing cultural rights. However, this does not contradict the state's responsibility to implement and protect this right. In 2014, the State of Palestine acceded to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entails obligations to harmonize its legislation with what it committed to in this covenant.
Meanwhile, the National Policy Agenda (2017-2022) stressed the importance of protecting Palestinian identity and cultural heritage, through policy interventions related to supporting creativity and cultural production, protecting and developing Palestinian cultural heritage, developing traditional cultural and tourism industries, and promoting Palestine as a tourist attraction. In line with what came in the National Policy Agenda, the Ministry of Culture defined the strategic objectives and policies that it will work on.
Obstacles to the Realization of Cultural Rights: Absence of the right to culture as one of the basic rights in the Palestinian Basic Law; Absence of subsidiary legislation related to rights and the management of cultural life; Lack of financial resources allocated for the implementation of these rights; Absence of practical implementation mechanisms for the strategic framework that unifies the cultural vision; Weakness of the cultural infrastructure.
ï€ Applying the provisions of Law by Decree No. (11) of 2018 regarding tangible cultural heritage.
ï€ Increasing the amount of funds allocated to the Ministry of Culture in the general budget.
ï€ Approving the Freedom of Access to Information Act, the Intellectual Property Rights Act, the National Archives Act, and the Intangible Heritage Protection Act.