Human rights and illicit trade in cultural objects
Title: Human rights and illicit trade in cultural objects
Author: VRDOLJAK, Ana Filipa
Citation: Silvia BORELLI and Federico LENZERINI (eds), Cultural heritage, cultural rights, cultural diversity : new developments in international law, Leiden ; Boston : Martinus Nijhoff, 2012, Studies in intercultural human rights, Vol. 4, pp. 107-140
Movable cultural heritage is not bounded nor shielded by national territorial borders. Applicable domestic laws are of limited import without the cooperation of other states and the international community. Despite a century of domestic legal protection of movable cultural heritage in many states, widespread non-compliance and lack of enforcement has been the norm rather than the exception. However, the tide is turning. States formerly reluctant to ratify cultural heritage treaties have done so, signalling their acceptance of the importance of multilateral action in this field. Enforcement of such laws is viewed as part of the reinforcement of good governance, rule of law and human rights in the international and domestic spheres. This new found international cooperation has emerged within the context of developments in human rights law which have necessarily redefined and informed initiatives to combat the illicit traffic of cultural objects. These efforts are clarifying the nature of the obligations owed by states (and non-state actors) in respect of protection of movable heritage, and expanded the right-holder beyond the state – to individuals and groups. This chapter seeks to outline recent developments in the human rights law and international law for the protection of cultural heritage which manifest this interrelation as it pertains to movable heritage. Part One focuses on the obligations on states and non-state actors in leading international instruments for the protection of movable heritage including prevention of its illicit transfer during armed conflict, belligerent occupation and peacetime. Part Two details how human rights norms have been referenced in multilateral instruments for the protection of cultural heritage; and examines the relationship between controls on the export of cultural material and specific human rights, namely, the right to property, right to self-determination, right to participate in cultural life, and minority protection.
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