This chapter assesses the protection of cultural heritage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In their initial days of statehood, most postcolonial entities did not alter the basic institutional arrangements of colonial law and administration. In the MENA region, this resulted in the adoption of laws and policies related to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, which included elements from earlier Ottoman laws and by-laws, British and French Mandatory laws and ordinances, and the legislative efforts of the colonial powers of France and Italy. Subsequently, in postcolonial MENA, nation states began adopting the 1970 UNESCO Convention with the aim of protecting their cultural resources and at the same time asserting themselves as legitimate States who care about culture. UNESCO efforts were also aimed at fostering greater parity between nations, with the intention of eliminating or at least ameliorating colonial legacies of inequality and misappropriation.
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