Cultural Heritage

Introduction

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.

Europe

Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property  Nicosia 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.

Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society Faro 2005

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.

Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage of Europe (revised) Valletta 1992

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.

Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe Granada 1985

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.

International

UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Paris 2003

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.

UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Paris 2001

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.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Rome 1998

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.

UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally exported cultural objects Rome 1995

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.

UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property Paris 1970

This is the first Treaty with an international instrument dedicated to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.

UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) The Hague 1954

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.

Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments (Roerich Pact) Washington 1935

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.

Bibliography

Reference works

Books

Articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

New titles

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  • Xanthaki, A. (et al.) (eds.), Indigenous Peoples' Cultural Heritage : Rights, Debates, Challenges, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2017

    Xanthaki, A. (et al., eds.), Indigenous Peoples' Cultural Heritage : Rights, Debates, Challenges, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2017

    Indigenous rights to heritage have only recently become the subject of academic scholarship. This collection aims to fill that gap by offering the fruits of a unique conference on this topic organised by the University of Lapland with the help of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The conference made clear that important information on Indigenous cultural heritage has remained unexplored or has not been adequately linked with specific actors (such as WIPO) or specific issues (such as free, prior and informed consent). Indigenous leaders explained the impact that disrespect of their cultural heritage has had on their identity, well-being and development. Experts in social sciences explained the intricacies of indigenous cultural heritage. Human rights scholars talked about the inability of current international law to fully address the injustices towards indigenous communities. Representatives of International organisations discussed new positive developments. This wealth of experiences, materials, ideas and knowledge is contained in this important volume.

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  • Hutt, S. (et al.), Cultural Property Law: A Practitioner's Guide to the Management, Protection, and Preservation of Heritage Resources (2nd ed.), Chicago, Il., American Bar Association, 2017.

    Hutt, S. (et al.), Cultural Property Law: A Practitioner's Guide to the Management, Protection, and Preservation of Heritage Resources (2nd ed.), Chicago, Il., American Bar Association, 2017.

    Crossing into many disciplines, cultural property law continues to grow as an established area of practice and study. Now completely updated, this book provides an accessible and objective overview of all major components of an interdisciplinary legal practice that extends from government and tribal management of land to federal underwater resource management to the national and international laws governing museums and the arts marketplace. This practical, balanced, and clearly written guide: (i) identifies the components of the area of practice, offering a guide to their application in legal practice; (ii) follows the primary practice areas in the field, highlighting the laws and controlling cases that apply to the practice area identified in each chapter; (iii) provides frequently asked questions for each area of practice; and (iv) covers recent cases, regulations, and laws in the field, as well as a discussion of evolving legal concepts and an expanded treatment of emerging areas of law.

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  • Silverman, H. (et al.) (eds.), Heritage in Action: Making the Past in the Present, Cham, Springer, 2017.

    Silverman, H. (et al.)(eds.), Heritage in Action: Making the Past in the Present, Cham, Springer, 2017.

    Cultural heritage is a process, a discourse, a political reality, an economic opportunity, and a social arena as well as sites, objects, and performances. As such heritage “does work.” And as work cultural heritage is a cultural tool that is deployed broadly in society today. Heritage is at work in indigenous and vernacular communities, in urban development and regeneration schemes, in acts of memorialization and counteracts of forgetting, in museums and other spaces of representation, in tourism, in the offices of those making public policy, and all too frequently in conflicts over identity. Thus, heritage is not an inert something to be looked at. Rather, heritage is always in action, bringing the past into the present through historical contingency and manifold strategic appropriations and deployments. This volume emphasizes the active nature of heritage-making, hence heritage in action. The unifying theme of this volume is the way that heritage is active in enabling people to find ways to connect and reconnect with the idea of the past, with places, objects, and events acting as vectors and foci of meaning and activity. We attend to the individuals and communities that mobilize cultural heritage for a range of reasons and through a panoply of actions. We point towards a new, albeit imperfect, practical agenda for heritage in action.

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  • Lostal, M., International Cultural Heritage Law in Armed Conflict: Case Studies of Syria, Libya, Mali, the Invasion of Iraq, and the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

    Lostal, M., International Cultural Heritage Law in Armed Conflict: Case Studies of Syria, Libya, Mali, the Invasion of Iraq, and the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

    This book fills gaps in the exploration of the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict based on the World Heritage Convention. Marina Lostal offers a new perspective, designating a specific protection regime to world cultural heritage sites, which is so far lacking despite the fact that such sites are increasingly targeted. Lostal spells out this area's discrete legal principles, providing accessible and succinct guidelines to a usually complex web of international conventions. Using the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Mali (among others) as case studies, she offers timely insight into the phenomenon of cultural heritage destruction. Lastly, by incorporating the World Heritage Convention into the discourse, this book fulfills UNESCO's long-standing project of exploring 'how to promote the systemic integration between the [World Heritage] Convention of 1972 and the other UNESCO regimes'. It is sure to engender debate and cause reflection over cultural heritage and protection regimes.

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Database

Blogs

  • Looted Ethiopian Treasure

    On April 13, it was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Maqdala between the British empire and the Abyssinian empire, in modern day Ethiopia. The battle of 1868, which basically started as an expedition to free British hostages taken by the Abyssinian emperor, resulted in a decisive victory for the British and the suicide of the Abyssinian emperor Tewodros. In the aftermath, the British troops plundered the empire and loaded 15 elephants and almost 200 mules with their spoils. The Victoria and Albert Museum now hosts a special display with a number of the artifacts. This exposition raises the issue of the restitution of the looted artifacts to Ethiopia.

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  • Mali War Crimes Suspect Mr. Al Hassan Makes Initial Appearance Before the ICC

    After the Al Mahdi case, a landmark trial, a second case has been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Timbuktu, Mali between 2012 and 2013. Another Malian national, 40-year-old Mr Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has been accused of destroying holy places, mausoleums of Muslim saints in Timbuktu and of enforcing a policy of forced marriage which had led to sexual slavery and rape of women and girls. The alleged crimes were committed between 2012 and 2013 when Timbuktu was under the control of militant islamists. From April 2012 until January 2013, Mr Al Hassan was head of the Islamic Police.

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  • 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.

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  • '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.

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  • 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”.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Amsterdam Canals

    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.
    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!

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