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Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is a means to promote international peace and security, as well as a vector to strengthen international relations. It is therefore important to understand how it is protected under international law, whether as a human right or as cultural property under international humanitarian law. Over the past few years, the destruction of cultural heritage has drawn particular attention to this expanding field of international law.

BIICL is raising awareness about the international rules protecting cultural heritage, providing training and a discussion forum to relevant stakeholders, as well as leading research into the current gaps in cultural heritage law.

BIICL is currently undertaking a project 'Beyond Restitution: Exploring the Story of Cultural Objects After Their Repatriation', which will seek to offer a longer-term view on restitution through an analysis of past experiences. The project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

On 20 October 2020, BIICL published a Working Paper on 'The Role of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage', in line with sustainable development. Beyond considering the main international legal and policy instruments relevant to the protection of ICH in the context of infrastructure construction projects, this Working Paper undertakes a comparative analysis of of the sustainability policies of seven leading MDBs and an examination of four relevant case studies, before concluding with a set of initial findings and recommendations. This research was funded by the Dorset Foundation.

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Related Event

Toppled Statues and Monuments: Perspectives on the Global Movement Confronting Heritage

16 July 2020 

On the 7th of June 2020, the statue of Edward Colston, a philanthropist involved in the slave trade, was toppled and pushed into Bristol Harbour by Black Lives Matter protesters during the George Floyd protests. On the 17th of June, following years of debate and protests from the Rhodes Must Fall campaign group, the governing body of Oriel College in Oxford called for the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed.
This webinar discussed these events from an international and comparative perspective by considering the changing nature of cultural heritage as a legal concept, as well as heritage laws and statue politics in other jurisdictions such as Belgium, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, and South Africa, as well as the wider role of heritage in reconciliation.

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