Cultural heritage refers to anything that has been cherished for centuries. It may be ancient archaeological sites, historic buildings, artifacts, or even the lifeways of contemporary communities. It is an enduring symbol of identity, and it is threatened by many forces, including benign neglect, natural disasters, and destructive accidents. Climate change is one of these threats. Here are a few ways to protect cultural heritage. Let’s take a closer look at these three examples.
UNESCO’s 1970 Convention on the Protection of Cultural Heritage has led to a complex legal framework for art trade. Regular ownership concepts cannot be used to address title issues involving contested cultural objects. However, there is a notion of a ‘heritage title’ that can serve as a bridge between the traditional legal system and a human rights approach to cultural property rights. However, the concept of ‘heritage title’ has not been adopted in every country, and the complexities of implementing it are vast.
While the 1970 UNESCO Convention appoints states as exclusive owners and right holders of national cultural heritage, the language and context of the Convention make it difficult for countries to resolve such disputes. Nationality alone is not enough to determine title in disputes, because nationality does not account for the changing value of cultural objects. As a result, blind spots arise when artifacts have departed their native setting. Similarly, it is difficult to ensure that a state will adequately represent the interests of private individuals when disputes arise.
In addition to the debate on how to preserve cultural heritage, repatriation has become a crucial issue. In many cases, contested cultural property items have been looted and remain out of reach of the cultures from which they originated. The Jacobins’ goal was to show that art belongs to the people. With that goal in mind, the new Museum Francais in the Louvre is intended to make the country’s most celebrated monuments available to all.
UNESCO has developed guidelines for dealing with illegal export of cultural heritage. One such example is the Emergency Protection for Iraq Cultural Antiquities Act, which gives the President the power to impose emergency import restrictions. Similarly, in 2003, Britain and Switzerland prohibited the illegal export of Iraqi artifacts. These laws, along with the Dealing in Cultural Objects Bill, prohibit the handling of illegal cultural objects. The protection of cultural heritage is essential to prevent the proliferation of wars and the destruction of civilization.
This article is a good introduction to the issue of cultural appropriation. The author discusses how cultural property claims have affected different cultures, and how cultural appropriation has shaped their legal systems. The article can stand alone or be part of a more comprehensive exploration. Those interested in this topic may also enjoy the perspectives offered by Harding, Nicholas, and Coleman. The case studies presented in these papers provide an excellent foundation for further research.