History and Evolution of International Cultural Heritage Law: Through the Question of the Removal and Return of Cultural Objects
Proceedings of the Expert Meeting and First Extraordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to Its Countries of Origin or Its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation, Seoul, 25 to 28 November 2008
22 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2009
Date Written: November 28, 2008
The role of law in the removal and return of cultural objects has long been fraught and contested. This paper examines the history and development of the legal protection of cultural heritage at the international level with particular reference to the return of cultural objects.
With a view to facilitating the Intergovernmental Committee's future work, the paper is divided into four parts. First, there is an examination of the historical development of international cultural heritage law in respect of restitution over the last two centuries. Second, the establishment and work of the Intergovernmental Committee is considered in this historical legal context. Third, the work of the Intergovernmental Committee is assessed in the light of recent legal developments in a variety of international forums. Finally, the notion of 'return' is reconsidered with reference to our current historical moment and the impact of new technologies.
The paper emphasizes the pivotal role of law in any discourse on removal and return of cultural objects and efforts to creatively and effectively negotiate claims in the future.
Keywords: Cultural Heritage, Cultural Property, Return, Restitution, International Law, Peaceful settlement of disputes
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