International Human Rights Law

According to the Article 27 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), established on 16 December 1966, guarantees this right. As interpreted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this encompasses an obligation of preservation and presentation of mankind’s cultural heritage – in other words, a duty to preserve cultural heritage. The duty includes an obligation to protect such heritage from vandalism and theft, as well as a prohibition on its wilful destruction.  It is still subject to debate under which circumstances international human rights law prevails over international humanitarian law or Law of War, or vice versa, although in at least one case – a NATO-led International force in Kosovo – International Human Rights Law superseded the Law of War in cultural property protection.

To see the Universal Declaration of Human Rights click here. To find out more about International Human Rights Law and the ICESCR click here.

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