MUSEUM International N°228
Protection and Restitution
Editorial Isabelle Vinson
The establishment of legal instruments has accompanied and, occasionally, anticipated the development of public awareness for the protection of cultural heritage. The fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, known as the Hague Convention, provided the opportunity to review the history of the Convention and consider its complementarity with other instruments of protection, and more precisely, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, known as the Convention of 1970.
This issue of MUSEUM International features the main presentations from the anniversary symposium that took place at UNESCO on 14 May 2004. Its interest is twofold. Drawing on this commemoration, it proposes a synthesis of the evolution of the Convention of 1954 from the perspective of renowned legal experts who are directly involved in the implementation of the Convention, including the resolution of recent conflicts within former Yugoslavia. This historic synthesis reveals the multiplication of instruments for protection and the narrowing of spaces without rights. Strengthened by the empirical practice of the application of the law, this evolution has facilitated, during recent decades, the precision of terminology and its adaptation to different situations. Two texts, originally published by the Botary Foundation (Poland), establish contemporary meanings of terminology (restitution, return and repatriation) in this field. They also emphasize the political context for the creation and use of these terms, as well as their symbolic extensions, notably concerning the image of States’ authority, which began with the application of the law for the protection of cultural heritage.
This semantic exercise, which completes the synthesis, accounts for the rapidity of the evolution of instruments for the protection of cultural heritage, through their socialization; this being the most important driving force of the existence of public awareness. Today, it is legitimate to note that it is at the heart of this public awareness, rather than in the formal application of standard-setting instruments, that the strongest hopes lie for changing mentalities. Only new mentalities will favour responsible attitudes from all actors.
We have tried to identify this change in mentalities and attitudes by completing the reflections on the Convention of 1954 with contributions that also deal with managing the memory of the Second World War. We address the question of displaced cultural property , and the application of the Convention of 1970, concerning a relatively important national terrain, that of the United States of America. TOP
The Hague Convention – a Decisive Step Taken by the International Community Jiří Toman
The article is an introduction to the history, specificities and significance of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural property in the Event of Armed Conflict. It relates how the protection of cultural property gradually acquired a universal character, by providing examples from the Roman and Greek era to the sixteenth and seventeenth century until the decisive turnover of the Second World War. The article summarizes the characteristic features of the Hague Convention to end with examples of its implementation. TOP
This paper focuses on the 1899, 1907 and 1999 Hague Conferences for the Legal Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Conferences sought the most effective means of ensuring all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace. TOP
In his paper, Theodor Meron, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, outlines the normative framework for the protection of cultural property by the provisions of the Court. He then examines in detail the relevant cases decided by the Tribunal which dealt with the destruction of cultural property and the appropriate punishment under international law. Finally, he comments on the indictments confirmed by the Tribunal where destruction of cultural property was pleaded by the Prosecution. The list of issues presented in these indictments will give a sense of how the jurisprudence of the Yugoslavia Tribunal on the protection of cultural property may evolve. Moreover, it suggests the degree of protection that may be afforded to cultural property in future cases. TOP
The Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict within the Framework of International Humanitarian Law Frits Kalshoven
The purpose of this paper is to explore the 1954 Convention in the wider world of international humanitarian law in which the phrase ‘cultural property’ is not even mentioned. Admittedly, one comes across the term ‘cultural objects’, frequently in combination with ‘places of worship’. However, it will be some time before those terms are applied. TOP
Cultural Property, National Treasures, Restitution Krzysztof Pomian
Pomian emphasizes the political context of the creation and use of the term ‘restitution’ . Furthermore, he studies its symbolic extensions, notably concerning the image of States’ authority, which began with the application of the law for the protection of cultural heritage. TOP
Types of Claims for Recovery of Lost Cultural Property Wojciech Kowalski
The text establishes contemporary meanings of terminology for restitution, repatriation and return. It opens the debate on displaced cultural property in Western, Central and Eastern Europe. It favours a discussion not so much about removal but rather about possible solutions. TOP
This article focuses on the interplay between the CPIA and the principles underlying criminal prosecutions for cultural property thefts as developed by the American courts, which culminated in the Schultz case. This analysis demonstrates both the limitations and the wide-ranging effects of the UNESCO Convention and the CPIA in the United States. TOP
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