According to the 2009 General Comment No. 21 issued by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, cultural rights broadly entail the freedom of all persons to engage in cultural activities; however, this right goes further by facilitating access to and benefit from scientific, literary and artistic activities as this right is linked to others contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the right to education.
Cultural rights are often difficult to interpret in that there is no single definition of culture; however, for the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, culture encompasses,
“among other things, lifestyles, language, written and oral literature, music and song, non-verbal communication, religion and belief, rites and ceremonies, sports and leisure, production or technology, the natural and man-made environments, food, clothing and housing, as well as arts, customs and traditions by which individuals, groups and communities express their humanity and the meaning of life, and a world view that represents their encounter with the external life-altering factors. Culture reflects and shapes well-being in addition to individual and community economic, social and political life” (UN, 2009).
As can be noted in this definition, the development of cultural rights is primarily found in the various relationships between people, which is why peaceful coexistence within societies is a minimum requirement for safeguarding these rights, and then, as a foundation for peace to be: (i) symbolic or cultural, in that it removes prejudices and discrimination through active engagement in arts, traditions and customs, (ii) structural, in that it creates the conditions for social justice by ensuring minimum standards such as education and health via scientific activities, a healthy environment and sports activities, and (iii) crystal-clear, in that culture prevents the escalation of social conflict into of violence.