Multicultural societies and the requirements of a democratic State

Position Paper | Year 2020
Multicultural societies and the requirements of a democratic State
How to preserve social Cohesion?
Class of the Humanities
The increasing cultural diversity in European societies brings with it the question whether, and if so, under what conditions, law can continue to play the role of an instrument for bringing about social cohesion.

This analysis comprises two mutually complementary parts. The first part (section 2) briefly describes the various legal techniques that have been developed in a number of (chiefly Western) European countries since the post-war period (the 1950s and 1960s) in order to address problems and issues of (potential) conflicts between cultures, religions and/or beliefs. The second part takes a closer look at the role of human rights in this regard, with a number of examples drawn from recent cases that focus in particularly on the protection of freedom of religion and belief, in conjunction with the principle of personal autonomy. The main argument advanced here is that said protection must be afforded to everyone equally, as far as possible; in a multicultural social context, social cohesion comes under pressure if effective, equal treatment as regards identity and/or belief is not guaranteed and thus the impression reigns that some people enjoy greater protection than
others do.

Available documents


  • Marie-Claire Foblets