- Human rights — Immunity from jurisdiction — Customary international law
The application of State immunity to cultural heritage property may yield contradictory outcomes. On the one hand, it may bar access to justice by rightful owners of cultural property. On the other, it may shield art objects from reparation claims by victims of state breaches of obligations which are unrelated to ownership issues. This chapter examines the law and practice concerning cultural heritage and state immunity. A variety of pertinent recent developments are reviewed, such as certain law-making activities by the Council of Europe, the International Law Association, and a number of States, as well as several high-profile judicial disputes challenging state immunity for cultural property, particularly in the context of the United States Nazi-looted art litigation. Against that backdrop, the chapter discusses the boundaries of customary law in this area, especially as regards the existence and scope of a customary rule of immunity from seizure for artworks on loan.
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