What is cultural heritage? Cultural heritage includes ancient archaeological sites, historical buildings, collections of artifacts, and the lifeways of contemporary communities. It is an important symbol of identity for a community, and is often threatened by accidents, mismanagement, and even climate change. However, there are a number of ways to protect cultural heritage. Listed below are three ways to protect cultural heritage. All three are essential to safeguarding our world’s cultural heritage.
Humankind’s cultural heritage is also endangered by war and armed conflict. In Timbuktu, for example, historical manuscripts were burned, while ISIS destroyed Palmyra, an ancient trading city. In Afghanistan, the Taliban looted ancient treasures, and the U.S. government is pursuing a policy of persecution against the Rohingya and Uighurs. The destruction of these sites is a direct threat to our civilization, and it must be stopped.
The conservation of cultural heritage involves many different experts, from law enforcement and architects to conservationists. Non-government organizations such as the World Monuments Fund and the International Council of Museums study cultural property and develop restoration and preservation programs. Some benefactors and donors also contribute to cultural heritage preservation efforts. In many cases, governmental officials also become involved in cultural heritage preservation. It is not only the preservation of tangible cultural heritage that is at stake.
While determining the value of cultural heritage, UNESCO guidelines encourage states to seek cooperation. For instance, countries must work together to ensure that inalienable cultural heritage is returned to their communities. Inalienable cultural property cannot be traded freely. Under this rule, States are required to return objects in their inventories to the owners, and other Member States must facilitate the recovery of these properties. This approach is crucial to preserving the diversity of cultural heritage and protecting its values.
As cultural heritage can help people heal after conflict, it can also help them reconcile with their past. General Douglas MacArthur helped the Japanese to preserve their cultural treasures after the war. As a result, post-World War II Europe turned Auschwitz into a museum and memorial. There is a strong cultural connection between museums and history, and it is vital that we protect this heritage in the present. This way, we will preserve the memories and art of our history and make it more meaningful for future generations.
A key issue in preserving cultural heritage is that of the destruction of indigenous cultures. In Catalonia, for example, France was seen as a haven of freedom. However, France destroyed their own ethnic, linguistic, and human family bond. Today, parents and children often speak different languages, while grandparents and grandchildren speak a despicable patois. Certainly, no element of a generation’s culture is preserved. However, this is not the case in all countries.
The protection of cultural heritage requires the state to respect and preserve indigenous cultures. Thankfully, there are international conventions and treaties to ensure the safety and integrity of cultural heritage. The Hague Convention, signed after World War II, was subsequently followed by two supplentary protocols. The second Protocol obligates contracting parties to penalise violators of cultural heritage laws. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also mandates the rights of linguistic, religious, and ethnic minorities.