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On Defining the Cultural Heritage


Examples can be found from ancient times of concern for the protection of cultural artefacts and early legislation to protect monuments and works of art first appeared in Europe in the 15th century. Cultural heritage was first addressed in international law in 1907 and a body of international treaties and texts for its protection has been developed by UNESCO and other intergovernmental organisations since the 1950's. The 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of UNESCO (henceforth the “Hague Convention”) is the earliest of these modern international texts and was developed in great part in response to the destruction and looting of monuments and works of art during the Second World War. It grew out of a feeling that action to prevent their deterioration or destruction was one responsibility of the emerging international world order and an element in reconciliation and the prevention of future conflicts. International law relating to the protection of cultural heritage thus began with comparatively narrow objectives, the protection of cultural property in time of war.

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C. Joyner Legal Implications of the Concept of the Common Heritage of Mankind”, 35 I.C.L.Q. (1986) pp.190199 at 192

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International & Comparative Law Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0020-5893
  • EISSN: 1471-6895
  • URL: /core/journals/international-and-comparative-law-quarterly
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