Human Rights Law and Policy

Human Rights Development

Human Rights and business

  Human Rights in culturally diverse societies

Human rights of older persons


Accession EU to the ECHR


 Meeting reports

  Working documents

  Other relevant documents

Answers to FAQ

External relations

  Cooperation with international partners


Other Topics

  Death Penalty


  Armed forces,
Conscientious objection


  Article 52

  Fighting Impunity

  Human Rights
Development (DH-DEV)


Human Rights
in Culturally Diverse Societies


Human rights are generally regarded as universal, indivisible and interdependent. Sometimes, in a culturally diverse context, there may be a need to strike a fair balance between different rights. On the one hand, none of these rights should be set aside due to cultural or religious practices or customs. On the other hand, it may sometimes be necessary to allow for differential treatment or for appropriate exceptions in order to accommodate diversity. For instance, providing members of minority groups with alternative opportunities in accordance with their culture or religion might promote pluralism and tolerance, and ensure cohesive and stable society.

There already exist a number of international and European standards in the field of human rights in culturally diverse societies. The challenge is now to ensure that these standards are effectively implemented in Europe, where intolerance, extremism, xenophobia and incitement to violence are on the rise. 

Within the Council of Europe,  the CDDH adopted a study of existing instruments in the field of human rights in culturally diverse societies in November 2012, as well as a study on the feasibility and the added value of new activities in the field in June 2013. Against this background, the Committee of Ministers decided to continue considering these issues during the next biennium (2014-2015).

With a view to promoting the human rights in culturally diverse societies, a new drafting group CDDH-DC is going to start its work in March 2014, by gathering the existing standards, case-law and good practices regarding the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and other rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, such as the freedom of expression and the freedom of association.

Documents of the Drafting Group on Human Rights in Culturally Diverse Societies (CDDH-DC)


2nd  meeting of CDDH-DC
21-24 October 2014, Strasbourg
Agenda Meeting report

1st meeting of CDDH-DC
24-25 March 2014, Strasbourg


Meeting report



Proceedings of the Conference on "Human rights in culturally diverse societies: challenges and perspectives” (The Hague, November 2008) Proceedings
Manual on hate speech (English) Manual
Manual on hate speech (German) Manual
Manual on the wearing of religious symbols in public areas (English) Manual
Link to the work of the Group GT-DEV-SM which examined in the course of 2007 and 2008 issues related to the respect of human rights in a multicultural society