It is important to acknowledge the multiple interests that people have in cultural heritage objects. The process of managing cultural heritage objects aims to reconcile these competing interests. In this process, objects are categorized by their heritage value and social function. For example, highly symbolic objects will stand out because of their identity value for the people involved. But artefacts produced solely for the market will not meet the heritage title test. To be included in a cultural heritage inventory, artefacts must be tangible symbols of a family’s past or present.
Displacement of cultural heritage objects can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, looting or colonial activity may cause works of art to be removed from their original context. This can lead to a great loss for the indigenous source communities. In addition to causing damage to the work, dislocation can also lead to the disappearance of important knowledge about the work. In such cases, the process of cultural heritage conservation can be hampered by conflicts between archaeologists and the native population.
The 1970 UNESCO Convention addresses a range of issues related to the protection of cultural heritage. The Convention addresses issues related to the unauthorized export of cultural objects as well as preventing the destruction of cultural objects in situ. While the Convention aims to combat illicit trade, it also does not resolve title issues. States, communities and private individuals may contest the ownership of cultural objects. Because of these gaps, a growing body of’soft law’ has been created to address these issues.
The existing legal framework for art trade is based on the 1970 UNESCO Convention. While regular ownership concepts do not adequately address disputed cultural objects, the concept of heritage title can provide a bridge between the legal and cultural rights approaches. In this way, the protection of cultural objects can be achieved by recognizing the rights of communities to their cultural property.
UNESCO has also sought to organize the field of cultural objects by adopting an intergovernmental model. It published a draft Declaration of Principles Regarding Cultural Objects in Connection with the Second World War in 2009. However, the draft declaration has never been adopted. The UNESCO Declaration relies on the traditional intergovernmental model, which implies that a country should claim cultural objects that it has lost in war.
Since Syria has been under conflict for so long, cultural heritage in the country has been exposed to dangers. Looting, theft and illegal trafficking have severely damaged important archaeological sites. Even in the face of war and crisis, a large number of refugees have been displaced. The destruction of cultural heritage has led to the destruction of cultural centers.
The UNDROIT Convention states that cultural heritage has the right to be protected. It also mentions the right to exchange culture. This convention also guarantees the right of minority states to protect their culture. Moreover, it guarantees the right of minorities to practice their own language.