We cannot simply disregard cultural heritage, even though it is a fundamental property of mankind. The concept of cultural heritage was first articulated by the UNESCO Convention of 1970, which serves as a framework for its protection. However, the cultural objects are not the exclusive property of the state, which is why it is important to ensure that the right to protect them is firmly established.
Today, there are numerous programs to preserve and promote cultural heritage. Some government ministries of culture have their own conservation, preservation, and revitalization programs, while intergovernmental organizations are dedicated to researching, studying, and protecting cultural property. There are also many non-governmental programs that aim to preserve and promote cultural heritage. Many of these programs have a social, economic, and political aim, but they are not exclusively government-funded.
Art is another important form of cultural expression. It is a reflection of a person’s culture and often expresses a religious conviction. Religious institutions commission artists to create works of art that reflect their beliefs. Examples of this include the intricate geometric designs of Islamic mosques, or the stunning stained glass windows of Gothic cathedrals. These works develop artisan skills and become iconic religious legacies.
In addition to being a valuable cultural resource, ancient art works also carry monetary value. Their removal from their original context can lead to the destruction of a community’s cultural heritage. As a result, they are often the targets of looters, dealers, and collectors. Furthermore, there is debate on whether to publish research on these items, which may encourage further looting and loss of archaeological information.
The process of creating and preserving cultural heritage is a massively creative enterprise. While it seems that group-based creations dominate, individuals also play a central role. Therefore, depriving someone of the resources needed to create their own cultural heritage is a grave violation of their normative agency. This deprivation is especially harmful to the well-being of an individual.
Religion and culture are intimately related. The former is a foundation for religious experience and education. The latter can enhance a person’s experience of God. It can be manifested through tangible and intangible media. It also influences the norms and expectations of a faith community. It has a profound effect on the development of a society.
The relationship between religion and culture is often seen as negative. People often invoke freedom of religion as an excuse for human rights violations. The difference between religion and culture can be blurred, and a culture can become religious in its expression. This does not necessarily mean that it is less genocidal. However, destroying protected groups’ culture is still a genocidal act.