'They Took Our Flag!' Should Northern Ireland's Decision-Makers View Mnemonic Heritage Emblems as 'Cultural Easements' in International Law?
Macquarie Law Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 79-97, 2014
20 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 12, 2014
This article looks to the recent ‘removed flag’ controversies in Northern Ireland to argue that post-conflict decision-making should be clearly underpinned by principles of international human rights law and by a checklist of fiduciary obligations for decision-makers to actively peace-keep. Useful guidance on protecting cultural property rights is drawn upon from amongst indigenous case law on cultural easements and from wide range of UNESCO provisions on the need for heritage respect; political decision-makers are framed as the trustees of a fragile peace process, morally obliged to maintain a high level of community involvement and broad consensus. The article further argues that long-held ‘other-side’ fears and perceptions should be afforded a meaningful level of respect, especially when tied to symbolic items of cultural heritage which ‘belong’ to newly minoritised sections of the community. Policy-making on contentious cultural heritage rights, whether aimed at long or short-term resolutions, should similarly be led by key peace-making norms of tolerance and mutual respect.
Keywords: flags, post-conflict, cultural heritage
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