Donders on Cultural Heritage and Human Rights @UvA_Amsterdam

Yvonne Donders, Amsterdam Center for International Law, has published Cultural Heritage and Human Rights in Oxford Handbook on International Cultural Heritage Law. Here is the abstract.

Cultural heritage has been included in public international law because of its value as part of the history of humanity; hence the need for its legal protection not only at national, but also at international level. In international law, in particular humanitarian law, the concept of ‘cultural property’ was used for a long time as the source of protection. In more recent years, the concept of ‘cultural heritage’ has become more en vogue. Cultural heritage is considered to be of such value that safeguarding is necessary because of a public interest, irrespective of ownership. It is precisely the intrinsic link between cultural heritage and cultural identity of individuals, groups and humankind that justifies the national and international protection and preservation of cultural heritage. In recent years the link between cultural heritage and human rights has been strengthened. The interlinkages between cultural heritage and human rights form a complex web of different issues. In short, human rights serve the creation, preservation, protection, promotion, and enjoyment of cultural heritage. At the same time, preservation and enjoyment of, and access to, cultural heritage are human rights in and of themselves. Finally, human rights can also protect against cultural heritage that is considered to be in tension or conflict with human rights. Although no explicit rights to cultural heritage are included in international human rights treaties, several human rights provisions in these treaties imply rights for individuals and communities related to their cultural heritage, which in turn imply negative and positive obligations for states. The aim of this chapter is to broadly unravel the interlinkages between cultural heritage and human rights, focusing on international treaties on cultural heritage and international treaties on human rights.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.