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International Cultural Heritage Law Collection

The protection and safe-guarding of cultural heritage has been part of the legal framework of international law for hundreds of years, but in the decades since the adoption of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property it has evolved and developed into its own distinct branch of international law. From the beginning of the 21st century the scope of protection has expanded further and now covers new areas, including immovable property and sites, objects located in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and intangible cultural heritage.

The following collection provides a range of insights into cultural heritage law for you to explore, as well as in-depth examinations of its connections to other areas of international law, from global trade to human rights.

All content featured below from Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law, the Max Planck Encyclopedias of International Law, and Oxford Scholarship Online, is free to access until 31 August 2020.

Max Planck Encyclopedias of International Law


Compliance Procedure: Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage
By Véronique Guèvremont. From the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law.

This entry provides a critical overview of the legal aspect of the World Heritage Convention’s compliance procedure. It presents and analyses the main obligations subject to this procedure, the entities involved, and the compliance mechanisms.


Cultural Heritage
By Francesco Francioni. From the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law.

In the following analysis international law on cultural property is examined in relation to five general categories: War and Cultural Property, Trade and Cultural Property, World Cultural Property, Underwater Cultural Heritage, and Intangible Cultural Heritage.


World Natural Heritage
By Kerstin Odendahl. From the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law.

The following encyclopedia entry explores the notion of ‘world natural heritage’ and considers how the World Heritage Convention stands at the crossroads of the international protection of culture and nature.

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Cultural Heritage Law and Policy Series


Cultural Heritage Law: Contextual Issues
From International Cultural Heritage Law by Janet Blake.

This introduction addresses a series of important issues underlying cultural heritage policy and law. It provides a brief historical review of cultural heritage, discusses questions of terminology, and the new requirements and challenges posed by globalization.


Definitions: From Cultural Property to Cultural Heritage (and Back?)
From International Heritage Law for Communities: Exclusion and Re-Imagination, by Lucas Lixinski.

This chapter focuses on the multiple definitions of ‘heritage’ in UNESCO instruments, and particularly on their relationship to the idea of ‘property’ with respect to communities’ engagement with heritage.


From The Concept of Cultural Genocide: An International Law Perspective, by Elisa Novic.

Elisa Novic addresses the question of the status of cultural genocide in international law, starting with the difficulty of coining a unique definition of cultural genocide.


The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention
From Landscape Protection in International Law, by Amy Strecker. 

Amy Strecker analyses the evolving conception and protection of landscape in the World Heritage Convention. This chapter discusses the typology of cultural landscapes, issues of representativeness and the implications of the World Heritage system for landscape protection globally, as well as locally.


Intersections in Public International Law for Protecting Cultural Heritage Law: Past, Present, and Future
From Intersections in International Cultural Heritage Law, by Anne-Marie Carstens and Elizabeth Varner.

This introductory chapter examines how the scope of international law governing the recognition, protection, or return of cultural heritage law can be illuminated by studying cultural heritage regimes within the context of the intersections in which they have developed.

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Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law


The Ability of Environmental Treaties to Address Environmental Problems in Post-Conflict
By Britta Sjöstedt. From Environmental Protection and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Clarifying Norms, Principles, and Practices, edited by Carsten Stahn, Jens Iverson, and Jennifer S. Easterday.

Britta Sjöstedt examines how international environmental law pertains in the transition phase from armed conflict to peace (post-conflict), and specifically considers the application of the World Heritage Convention in relation to the armed conflicts taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence. The full book is offered as a PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations.


Cultural Rights and Natural Resources: Cultural Heritage, Traditional Knowledge, and Spirituality
From Natural Resources and Human Rights: An Appraisal, by Jérémie Gilbert

The following extract focuses on the connections and correlation between cultural practices and natural resources, and explores how the legal framework of cultural heritage is relevant to protecting certain traditional cultural practices and knowledge connected to the use of natural resources.


Economic and Social Development: Culture
By Tullio Scovazzi. From The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties, edited by Simon Chesterman, David M. Malone, and Santiago Villalpando.

Tullio Scovazzi examines the concept of cultural heritage, the protection of cultural heritage during conflicts, and culture as a general interest of the international community within the framework of the UN Treaties.


Introduction: The Convention, from Inception to Young Adulthood
By Janet Blake. From The 2003 UNESCO Intangible Heritage Convention: A Commentary, edited by Janet Blake and Lucas Lixinski.

This chapter discusses the challenges of implementing the 2003 Convention on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage’s provisions, as well as the impacts it has left upon international law.


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