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Cultural heritage, international criminal law and protection of human rights between history and jurisprudence

Published: Jan 15, 2023
cultural heritage; ICTY; ICC; Nuremberg; ECtHR; ECHR; STL; international responsibility; cultural genocide; cultural cleansing.
Norman Reves

The protection of cultural heritage in our days is a subject of international criminal law given that the first sentences by international courts that paved the way for inserting asset protection as an autonomous and ad hoc crime into an international statute were those of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The polymorphism of protection needs is connected to the versatility which includes every legal asset to be protected and which arises from both domestic and international law. The cultural asset is characterized by both certain and generic attributes, such as immaterial or tangible, movable or immovable. The collateral damage caused during armed conflicts, the dangers that arise, the destruction of the illicit trafficking of works of art as part of what is called cultural heritage is an issue that requires the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. The destruction and impoverishment of cultural heritage also opens the way to punishment given the individual responsibility of the subject who destroys a protected asset, simultaneously highlighting the anthropocentric nature of the interest thus read. This is the panorama of the present paper which is based both on the doctrine and on the jurisprudence of the international courts of recent years helping us understand what kind of protection we need and what cultural protection means.

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