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Proposal for Modification of Article 53 of the Constitution

Propuesta de modificación del Artículo 53 de la Constitución
Proposal for Modification of Article 53 of the Constitution

To address the civic responsibility of the Dominican nation and culture, a group of intellectuals and institutions, led by the Dominican Network of Local Cultures, together with the Latin American School of Social Sciences in the Dominican Republic (FLACSO-DR), the Center for Research and Social Studies (CIES in Spanish) and the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), reviewed and refined the proposal on cultural rights contained in Article 53 of the Constitutional Reform.

The proposal to modify Article 53 of the Constitutional Reform project underway in the honorable National Congress is not limited to establishing cultural rights only but also the rights of the culture. 

The different points of view that supported the present civil society proposal are firmly rooted in the goal of attaining and guaranteeing a State of cultural rights, allowing us as a nation to provide equal opportunities to all Dominican citizens for the full exercise of their cultural prerogatives. In view of the changes happening around the world, culture and cultural rights form the base for respect and coexistence, democracy, and peace among the individuals and nations aspiring to build a global ethic. 

The proposal to modify Article 53 of the Constitutional Reform project underway in the honorable National Congress is not limited to establishing cultural rights only but also the rights of the culture. 

Our proposal is part of the new cultural constitutionalism, a result of the many international legal and conceptual instruments on cultural rights, included in the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which in past decades were the only reference tools for the formulation of cultural rights. At this moment, and after the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2006), the drafting of the Ibero-American Cultural Letter of the Ibero-American States Organization (2006) and the Declaration of Cultural Rights of Fryeburg (2007), progress has been made in refining and adapting the vision on culture and its rights to our time.

It is from this renewed perspective, with its wide scope for the development of a new democratic and plural citizenship for the Dominican Republic, that those involved in the Dominican culture and social organizations have gathered at this press conference to announce to the rest of the Dominican nation a proposal that reflects this new content on cultural rights. National and international experts have participated in the review process, as well as cultural leaders and social and cultural groups from our country.

The present proposal has adhered to certain criteria to: 

  1. Consolidate and expand the structure of constitutional principles and guarantees on cultural rights in our country.
  2. Review Article 53 of the Constitutional Reform project, coherently broadening the scope of Article 27 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and complementing it with other legal instruments, both national and international.
  3. Cultural rights are based on the concept of cultural development, as well as pluralism and cultural diversity.
  4. The formulation of Article 53 should have a positive effect on improving and applying the procedural laws on culture.
  5. Cultural rights should assure individual and collective cultural rights.
  6. To propose a concept of nation and identity that expresses the changing and dynamic nature of both concepts.
  7. Define the State’s obligation to culture and the guarantee of liberty and cultural autonomy of individuals, sectors, and communities in the creative process, cultural development and human well-being. 

For these reasons we have made a call to our honorable National Congress, today in assembly to review our Constitution, to know the effort of the Civil Society Organizations and leaders in the Dominican culture, who seek to develop a more robust citizenship, since this is the only way for us to be able to navigate in a globalized world and with a marked tendency toward multicultural societies, with recognition of many identities.  

Proposal of intellectuals, academic and cultural organizations with reference to Article 53 on cultural rights, regarding the reform project of the Dominican Constitution:

Art. 53. All people have the right to participate in and act freely and without censure in the cultural life of the community; have full access to and enjoy the benefits and cultural services, scientific advancements, artistic and literary production. The State will concede on authors and inventors, through the law, the protection of their moral and material interests which correspond to their own authoring or invention of scientific, cultural, literary or artistic productions.  

Paragraph I. The State will establish by law the policies and institutions that promote cultural development and stimulate, nationally and internationally, the various manifestations and expressions of scientific, artistic and popular culture of the Dominican Republic as well as creative expressions for universal fundamental cultural formation, assuming the responsibility to preserve, strengthen and promote them. It will also encourage and support the efforts of individuals, institutions and communities to promote, encourage, develop and finance plans, programs and cultural activities on a local, national and international level.
Paragraph II. The State will guarantee freedom of expression, cultural creation and access to equal opportunities in culture, assuming values of pluralism and cultural diversity In this regard, respect and promote human rights, peaceful, participatory democracy, multiculturalism, respect for cultural diversity, gender equality, cooperation and international cultural exchange.

Paragraph III. The State recognizes the value of culture in shaping individual and collective identities, national values and the dignity of all Dominicans, giving importance to integral and sustainable development, economic growth, innovation and human well-being in general. Therefore, state plans for economic and social development will promote a horizontal approach that protects and encourages scientific research and cultural production.

Paragraph IV. The state will encourage scientific, artistic and popular creativity, adopting policies of recognition and social protection that ensure the dignity and integrity of the cultural workers.

Paragraph V. All the wealth of art, culture and history of the country, in its various forms and expressions, tangible and intangible, form part of the nation’s cultural heritage and will be under the protection of the state. The State shall guarantee their protection, enhancement, conservation, restoration and value. The assets that comprise the cultural heritage of the nation, whose ownership has been acquired from their origin in the state, are inalienable and not subject to seizure. The State shall protect the assets that comprise the nation’s cultural heritage, regardless of their legal ownership, in the face of illegal exportation and plundering. The corresponding laws will establish sanctions and penalties for any damage caused to this property or assets.


Propuesta de modificación del Artículo 53 de la Constitución

Fecha de Publicación: 24 de Marzo del 2009

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