The International Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Law, the ICIRiL, promotes and supports research on law, human rights, the rule of law and democracy on the one hand, and cultural diversity on the other hand. It builds on the work undertaken since 1993 by Personne, culture et droits, an international interdisciplinary research team which was an important contributor to an ongoing international dialogue on the universality of human rights and their implementation in a context of cultural diversity.
The ICIRiL works in an interdisciplinary context with social, political and university actors to conduct research projects in a North-South context where the ideals of the universality of human rights, the rule of law, democracy and the respect of cultural diversity come into play.
Human rights and their claim to universal validity are often criticised as products of Western culture by those who seek to attach greater importance to indigenous cultural values. This conflict between universality and diversity lies is at the heart of the relations of the Western world with the Muslim and Arab worlds and with other developing countries. A better understanding of the underlying factors which allowed human rights to take hold in the Western world should allow us to understand the how culture can both facilitate and obstruct the implementation of human rights regimes in other countries. Studying cultural diversity in the legal context should also help us to understand those human rights that are only cultural practices.