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Part II Substantive Aspects, Ch.6 The Responsibilities to Protect Cultural Heritage and Prevent Cultural Genocide

James A. R. Nafziger

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Cultural Heritage Law

Edited By: Francesco Francioni, Ana Filipa Vrdoljak

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 19 January 2021

Human rights — Ethnic cleansing — Wanton destruction — Genocide — Armed conflict

This chapter assesses the concept of a State’s limited responsibility to protect persons against atrocities (R2P). Though still quite new, R2P is already respected and modestly operational as a political principle or, arguably, as soft law. It is importantly related to the international crime of genocide, as acknowledged, for example, by the title and mission of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. The chapter then looks at the applicability of R2P to cultural heritage, introducing the concepts of cultural genocide and cultural cleansing against a background of armed conflict. With reference to R2P, the intentional mass destruction of cultural material already has been accepted under international law as evidence of atrocity crimes against persons. Somewhat paradoxically, however, although cultural genocide has become prominent in international discourse as a threat to fundamental human rights and global order, it lacks a secure foundation in international law.

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