Cultural heritage could be described as a record of the genius of human beings. The legacy of artefacts, antiquities, sacred places as rituals, traditions and living expressions could be seen as unintelligible foot print left behind for the next generations to mark our path through this world. It’s unimaginable to separate a people’s cultural heritage from the people itself and their rights. At the present there are many complex legal cases on cultural heritage waiting to be settled. These cases are a judicial challenge for all stakeholders.
This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research in the field of Cultural Heritage. By compiling all the legal materials available, the Peace Palace Library complete an accessible source of information, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law and subject heading (keyword) Cultural Heritage are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.
Cultural Heritage & Laws
For centuries international law has been developed as a vast legal framework to protect cultural heritage. Even though reality shows that laws cannot stop those motivated by malicious ideologies and those who convinced of their impunity, show contemptuous disregard for law itself. When States are supported to ratify those Conventions and implement its protective instruments in their domestic legislation, it will help them to aid their own judiciary in prosecution and to protect cultural heritage through international cooperation.
Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property (draft) Nicosia May 2017
The purpose as outlined in the new Convention is to prevent and combat the intentional destruction of, damage to, and trafficking in cultural property by strengthening criminal justice responses to all offences relating to cultural property while facilitating co-operation on an international level. The work is being carried out in close collaboration with various international organisations, including UNIDROIT, UNESCO, UNODC and the European Union.
The Convention encourages us to recognize that objects and places are not, in themselves, what is important about cultural heritage. They are important because of the meanings and uses that people attach to them and the values they represent.
The revised Convention drew on twenty-two years of experience in implementing the original Convention. It established a body of new basic legal standards for Europe, to be met by national policies for the protection of archaeological assets as sources of scientific and documentary evidence, in line with the principles of integrated conservation.
The main purpose of the Convention is to reinforce and promote policies for the conservation and enhancement of Europe's heritage. It also affirms the need for European solidarity with regard to heritage conservation and is designed to foster practical co-operation among the Parties. It establishes the principles of "European co-ordination of conservation policies" including consultations regarding the thrust of the policies to be implemented.
European Cultural Convention Paris 1954
The purpose of this Convention is to develop mutual understanding among the peoples of Europe and reciprocal appreciation of their cultural diversity, to safeguard European culture, to promote national contributions to Europe's common cultural heritage respecting the same fundamental values and to encourage in particular the study of the languages, history and civilisation of the Parties to the Convention. The Convention contributes to concerted action by encouraging cultural activities of European interest.
Referring to existing international human rights instruments, in particular to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 the Convention considers the deep-seated interdependence between the intangible cultural heritage and the tangible cultural and natural heritage.
The convention is intended to protect "all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical or archaeological character" which have been under water for over 100 years. This extends to the protection of shipwrecks, sunken cities, prehistoric art work, treasures that may be looted, sacrificial and burial sites, and old ports that cover the oceans' floors.
The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Those crimes "shall not be subject to any statute of limitations".
The Rome Statute explicitly protects cultural heritage under art 8, deeming its destruction to be a war crime.
To take international cooperation, UNIDROIT was asked by UNESCO to develop the Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995), as a complementary instrument to the 1970 Convention. States commit to a uniform treatment for restitution of stolen or illegally exported cultural objects and allow restitution claims to be processed directly through national courts. Moreover the UNIDROIT Convention covers all stolen cultural objects, not just inventoried and declared ones and stipulates that all cultural property must be returned.
This is the first Treaty with an international instrument dedicated to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.
This is the first international treaty with a world-wide vocation focusing exclusively on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. It covers immovable and movable cultural heritage, including monuments of architecture, art or history, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest, as well as scientific collections of all kinds regardless of their origin or ownership.
The most important purpose of the Roerich Pact is the legal recognition that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the use or destruction of that culture for military purposes, and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity.
- Forrest, C.J.S., International Law and the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Abingdon, Routledge, 2010.
- Hoffman, B.T. (ed), Art and Cultural Heritage : Law, Policy, and Practice, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- Nafziger, J.A.R., R.K. Paterson and A.D. Renteln (eds.), Cultural Law: International, Comparative, and Indigenous, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- Kearney, A., " Intangible Cultural Heritage: Global Awareness and Local Internet", in L. Smith and N. Akagawa (eds.), Intangible Heritage, London, Routledge, 2009, pp. 209-225.
- Kouroupas, M.P., "Preservation of Cultural Heritage: a Tool of International Public Diplomacy", in J.A.R. Nafziger (ed.), Cultural Heritage Issues: the Legacy of Conquest, Colonization and Commerce?, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2009, pp. 325-334.
- Renold, M.A., "Stolen Art: the Ubiquitous Question of Good Faith", in Resolution of Cultural Property Disputes, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 2004, pp. 251-263.
- Scovazzi, T., "La Convention pour la sauvegarde du patrimoine culturel immatériel", in B. Vukas (ed.), International Law: New Actors, New Concepts, Continuing Dilemmas: Liber Amicorum Božidar Bakotić, Leiden, Brill, 2010, pp. 301-317.
- Srinivasan, M., S.R. Pandian and A. Enoch, "International Crimes: Cyber Crime, Crimes against Cultural Heritage, Environmental Crimes, and Money Laundering", in S. Kethineni (ed.), Comparative and International Policing, Justice, and Transnational Crime, Durham, NC, Carolina Academic Press, 2010, pp. 385-408.
- Symeonides, S.C., "A Choice-of-Law Rule for Conflicts Involving Stolen Cultural Property", Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 38 (2005), No. 4, pp. 1177-1198.
- Vrdoljak, A.F., "Unravelling the Cradle of Civilization 'Layer by Layer': Iraq, its Peoples and Cultural Heritage", in M. Langfield, W. Logan and M.N. Craith (eds.), Cultural Diversity, Heritage and Human Rights: Intersections in Theory and Practice, London, Routledge, 2010, pp. 62-82.
- Warren, J., "War and the Cultural Heritage of Iraq: a Sadly Mismanaged Affair", in S. Barakat, Reconstructing Post-Saddam Iraq, Abingdon, Routledge, 2008, pp. 251-266.
- "Documents : a Selection of Codes of Ethics : Archaeological Institute of America", in : '' International Journal of Cultural Property, 7 (1998) 1, pp. 190-241
Periodicals, serial publications
- Aedon: rivista di arte e diritto on line
- Art, Antiquity and Law
- DePaul-LCA Journal of Art & Entertainment Law
- International Journal of Cultural Property
- Yearbook of Cultural Property Law
- Bruhn, P., Beutekunst: Bibliographie des internationalen Schrifttums über das Schicksal des im Zweiten Weltkrieg von der Roten Armee in Deutschland erbeuteten Kulturgutes, München, Otto Sagner, 2003.
- Fiedler, W. and S. Turner, Bibliography on the Law of the International Protection of Cultural Property, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2003.
- Statius Muller, M. and H. Thyssen, "Selected Bibliography", in The Cultural Heritage of Mankind, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2008, pp. 883-1037.
1. Casualties of Armed Conflict
Keywords: Cultural property, Cultural heritage, Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The Hague, 14 May 1954), International humanitarian law,
Weber L., Fishwick E. and Marmo M. (eds.),The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights, London, New York, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights brings together a diverse body of work from around the globe and across a wide range of criminological topics and perspectives, united by its critical application of human rights law and principles. This collection explores the interdisciplinary reach of criminology and is the first of its kind to link criminology and human rights.
Teilmann-Lock, S., Object of copyright : a conceptual history of originals and copies in literature, art and design, London, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
This book presents an interdisciplinary study of the growth of copyright law, largely based on archival research and on archival materials only recently made available online. The new history here articulated helps to explain why print is no longer today the sole or even the chief object of copyright protection. Taking its key examples from British, French and Danish copyright law, the book begins by exploring how the earliest copyright laws emerged out of the technological understanding of a printed copy, and out of the philosophical notions of originals and copies, tangibles and intangibles.
Blake, J., International Cultural Heritage Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the development of international cultural heritage law and policy since 1945. It sets out the international (including regional) law currently governing the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage in peace time, as well as international cultural policy-making. In addition to analysing the relevant legal frameworks, it focuses on the broader policy and other contexts within which and in response to which this law has developed. Following this approach, attention is paid to: introducing international cultural heritage law and its place in international law generally; illicit excavation and the illegal trade in archaeological finds; protection of underwater cultural heritage; the relationship between cultural heritage and the environment; intangible aspects of heritage and their safeguarding; cultural heritage as traditional knowledge and creativity; regional approaches to protection; and human rights issues related to cultural heritage. In addition, newly-emerging topics and challenges are addressed, including the relationship between cultural heritage and sustainable development and the gender dynamics of cultural heritage. Providing both a perfect introduction to cultural heritage law and deeper reflection on its challenges, this book should be invaluable for students, scholars, and practitioners in the field.
Vadi V. and Schneider H.E.G.S. (eds.), Art, cultural heritage and the market: ethical and legal issues, Heidelberg, Springer, 2014.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Contemporary intersections between art, cultural heritage and the market are complicated by a variety of ethical and legal issues, which often describe complex global relations. Should works of art be treated differently from other goods? What happens if a work of art, currently exhibited in a museum, turns out to have originally been looted? What is the relevant legal framework? What should be done with ancient shipwrecks filled with objects from former colonies? Should such objects be kept by the finders? Should they be returned to the country of origin? This book addresses these different questions while highlighting the complex interplay between legal and ethical issues in the context of cultural governance. The approach is mainly legal but interdisciplinary aspects are considered as well. The return of cultural artefacts to their legitimate owners, the recovery of underwater cultural heritage and the protection and promotion of artistic expressions are just some of the pressing issues addressed by this book.
Chechi, A., The Settlement of International Cultural Heritage Disputes, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2014.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The book focuses on the substance of such interaction, and identifies a number of culturally-sensitive parameters which need to apply (the 'common rules of adjudication'). Ultimately the book argues that existing judicial and non-judicial fora should adopt a cross-fertilizing perspective to use and disseminate jurisprudence containing these common rules of adjudication, to enhance the effectiveness and coherence of their decision-making processes. Finally, it sets out how such an approach would be conducive to the development of a wider body of international cultural heritage law.
Dromgoole, S., Underwater Cultural Heritage and International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001, which entered into force internationally in 2009, is designed to deal with threats to underwater cultural heritage arising as a result of advances in deep-water technology. However, the relationship between this new treaty and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is deeply controversial. This study of the international legal framework regulating human interference with underwater cultural heritage explores the development and present status of the framework and gives some consideration to how it may evolve in the future. The central themes are the issues that provided the UNESCO negotiators with their greatest challenges: the question of ownership rights in sunken vessels and cargoes; sovereign immunity and sunken warships; the application of salvage law; the ethics of commercial exploitation; and, most crucially, the question of jurisdictional competence to regulate activities beyond territorial sea limits.
Hide & Seek in the Art World
When we look at a piece of art, we enter the secret world of art. When we buy a piece of art, we enter the secret world of the art market. When anonymity in the art market is about protecting privacy, it’s a legitimate ground for secrecy. When secrecy paints a picture of a thinly regulated art trade where anonymity is used as playground to shield all kinds of doubtful behaviour and ownership, it is questionable. Law firms play a crucial role in this questionable secrecy in art market. Those law firms service their clients by incorporating and operating shell companies in ‘friendly’ jurisdictions and perform money laundering services as their core business. Law firms boost their client’s assets and inject them into the legal economy, through different money laundering schemes.Read more
'The World Forgetting, by the World Forgot'
At present there are many complex legal cases on cultural heritage waiting to be settled. These cases are a judicial challenge for all stakeholders. What makes it even more of a challenge is that most don’t realise the fact that cultural heritage is a component of a human rights issue. Cultural heritage could be described as a record of the genius of human beings. The legacy of artefacts, antiquities, traditions and living expressions could be seen as unintelligible foot print left behind for the next generations to mark our path through this world. It’s unimaginable to separate a people’s cultural heritage from the people itself and their rights.Read more
Cultural Property in Conflict
The destruction of cultural property is an old problem but still a topical issue. The destruction of cultural property in mostly Iraq and Syria is still a trending topic in the media. But it is not a new problem, cultural property has played a part in conflict and war throughout history. After the Second World War the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict 1954 was created to prevent this destruction in the future, but even then it continued. Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, called this destruction of cultural property in Iraq ‘cultural cleansing’. “They want to tell us that there is no memory, that there is no culture, that there is no heritage”.Read more
The Destruction of the Cathedral of Reims, 1914
On 20 September 1914, German shellfire burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the magnificent Cathedral of Reims. The destruction of the Cathedral was generally regarded as an act of sheer vandalism. At the time, it was generally admitted by writers on international law that if the military commander of a besieged place used a church or other building whose immunity had been established, as a stronghold, a storehouse, or an observatory, the besieger might bombard the site without being held responsible for damages caused in consequence of their proximity to other buildings which are liable to bombardment. Even the French war manual itself admitted this.Read more
60th Anniversary of the UNESCO 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of an Armed Conflict
The 1954 Convention is the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. It regulates the conduct of nations during war and military occupation in order to assure the protection of cultural sites, monuments and repositories, including museums, libraries and archives. A Round table meeting in the Peace Palace is organized on Monday, 12 May 2014.Read more
Exhibition of the Roerich Pact: History and Modernity
On 15 april 2014 the exhibition about the “Roerich Pact: History and Modernity” was officially opened at the Academy building of the Peace Palace. The exhibition is part of a world wide project of the International Centre of the Roerichs and the International Roerich’s Heritage Preservation to promote the Roerich Pact. Exactly 79 years ago, the Roerich Pact was signed in Washington by the representatives of 21 member-states of the Pan-American Union including the USA.Read more
Article 247 of the Treaty of Versailles and the “Mystic Lamb”
The ‘biography’ of the Ghent Altarpiece, also called the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, reads like a thriller. From the beginning this fascinating work was the object of passionate desire to either possess or destroy it. During the centuries of its existence, the altarpiece witnessed religious upheavals in the Southern Netherlands, came close to being destroyed during these outbreaks of iconoclasm and was damaged when moved to save guard it or when stolen. It endured fires, Napoleon’s looting army and two world wars. Parts of it were stolen, burned, recovered and stolen again and again.Read more
Crimes against Cultural Property in Mali
In an earlier Peace Palace Library blog (Cultucide in Timbuktu: Shari’a and war crimes) Ingrid Kost wrote that the Islamist Group Ansar (Ed)dine (“Defenders of the Faith”) destroyed some of the age-old mausolea of Sufi Saints in Timbuktu, Mali. One of the major causes of destruction of cultural property (the illicit trading, stealing and looting of cultural property is not covered in this blog) over the ages has been armed conflict. Crimes against cultural property should therefore be addressed properly.Read more
Cultural Property: Art Crimes, Disputes and the Passage of Time
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Dutch Restitutions Committee, an International Symposium titled ‘Fair and Just Solutions? Alternatives to Litigation in Nazi-looted Art Disputes, Status Quo And New Developments’ was held in the Academy Building of the Peace Palace on November 27, 2012.Read more
Cultucide in Timbuktu: Shari’a and War Crimes
Last weekend the Islamist Group Ansar Eddine (“Defenders of the Faith”) destroyed some of the age-old mausolea of Sufi Saints in Timbuktu. Despite the fact that recently on June 28 2012, these mausolea were placed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger.Read more
Doves, Swords, Scales and …
Doves, scales, olive branches, swords and many ladies justice in paintings, sculptures, tiles and panels adorn the halls of the Peace Palace. These symbols of peace emphasize the essence of the foundation of the building and the institutions it houses. A very fine example is the painting by Albert Besnard (1849-1934): La Paix et la Justice, 1914.Read more
Maritime Cultural Property and Treasure Hunting
Archaeological sites in international waters are numerous and still largely untouched. With the development of sophisticated technology for the search and recovery of shipwrecks on the ocean floor, however, issues of ownership, preservation, and cultural property rights have achieved increasing prominance. In particular, after the discovery of RMS Titanic in 1985 the debate among marine archaeologists, cultural rights proponents and commercial salvage companies about treasure hunting in international waters has intensified.Read more
The famous ring of three Amsterdam canals, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht must be included in the Unecso World Heritage List, according to a decision of the City Council and the Mayor & College of Aldermen.Read more
Already this year UNESCO has proclaimed Amsterdam ‘World Book Capital’. From 23 April 2008 until 22 April 2009.
Consult for an extensive collection of materials on cultural heritage the Bibliography on the Cultural Heritage of Mankind!
- Centre universitaire du droit de l'art
- Cultural Protection Treaties and Other International Agreements
- Features - Legal Protection of Cultural Property: A Selective Resource Guide, by Louise Tsang
- Heritage Law - The home of Heritage Law Europe
- ICCROM International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
- Institute of Art and Law
- International Council of Museums
- Lootedart.com - Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945
- UNECSO Cultural Property: Its Illicit Trafficking and Restitution
- UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws