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The International Law of Culture: Prospects and Challenges

23–25 May 2012, University of Göttingen, Germany

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2013

Mira Burri*
University of Bern. Email:


The international law of culture is a broad field, which certainly goes beyond the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as the international organization entrusted with, among other things, cultural affairs. Indeed, if one considers the far-reaching definition of culture, then a vast number of institutions, rules of hard and soft law, and initiatives of different scope and shape exist, and new ones come into being. This institutional complexity and the ensuing rule fragmentation are indicative of multiple scenes of contestation, denoted by different actors, politics, dynamics, and often strong path dependencies, which make meaningful communication between them and a solution-oriented forward thinking difficult. In scholarship, too, there appears to be increasing specialization, which carves out topics and subtopics, such as the UNESCO versus the World Trade Organization (WTO) clash, cultural heritage preservation, or indigenous peoples' rights. This may, despite the deeper knowledge won, hinder pinpointing appropriate regulatory responses at the international level, which could address cultural rights comprehensively.

Conference Reports
Copyright © International Cultural Property Society 2012

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