Federica Mucci (Università degli Studi di Roma "Tor Vergata")


Course description

Cultural heritage belongs neither only to the territorial community, nor only to the State where it is localized. Even though undeniably more linked to some specific culture or cultures, it belongs to all humankind; it is a common heritage and a precious catalyst of mutual knowledge, sustainable processes and inspiration for creativity. The international community was already fully aware of its shared responsibility for the protection of cultural properties at the time of the conclusion of the 1954 The Hague Convention and has then developed several other treaty systems covering all the main aspects of international relevance and the different kinds of heritage. The recent threats posed by widespread intentional destruction have quickened the development of general international law sources and very recently also led to the first judgment of an international criminal tribunal in a case that is completely devoted to the destruction of cultural heritage.

Students will be introduced to the international law sources on the protection of cultural heritage and their ratio, with a view to producing synergies when facing the major challenges posed by their everyday implementation.


Basic principles underlying the protection of cultural heritage in the international legal order
_Heritage, environment and human rights
_Cultural heritage as a common heritage of humankind
_The so-called “third generation” human rights
_Environmentally and culturally sustainable development: a challenge, an opportunity

Heritage and peace
_The first international rules about cultural heritage in the law of armed conflicts banning pillage and voluntary attack
_The restitution of illegally removed cultural properties as a condition for restoring peace and security in the UN Security Council decisions

The UNESCO conventional system for the protection of cultural heritage: solution of jurisdictional problems and creation of systems of shared responsibility
_Obligations of safeguard and of respect: the 1954 The Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict and its two Protocols
_Cultural nationalism v. cultural universalism? The 1970 Paris Convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
_A specific protection for sites “of outstanding universal value”: the 1972 Paris Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage
_Granting protection to “the widest – submerged – museum of the world”: the 2001 Paris Convention on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage
_Beyond the “classic” heritage concept: the 2003 Paris Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage
_Cultural diversity as essential as biodiversity, to be protected in a globalised world: the 2005 Paris Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression

Protection based on specific general international law rules, a process in the making
_The already established prohibition of the pillage of cultural properties during armed conflicts
_The condemnation of the intentional destruction of cultural heritage before and after the 2003 UNESCO Declaration, leading to the ICC judgment of 27 September 2016
_The 2001 UNESCO Declaration affirming that cultural diversity is a common heritage of humanity

Complementarity of the international and domestic level of protection
_The necessary voluntary engagement of the State on whose territory the cultural property is localized
_UNESCO recommendations as “soft law”
_“Soft means of coercive implementation” to grant best effectiveness of protection

Selected materials will be distributed and discussed with students.


General Reference Textbook:
Craig Forrest, International law and the protection of cultural heritage, Routledge, November 2010, ISBN: 978-0-415-46781-0, 458 pp.


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272