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


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00

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.

Learning Outcomes

The course is aimed at providing students with the necessary basic notions to be able to understand and contextualize the international law sources on cultural heritage. These sources not only coordinate and strengthen, but also guide and inspire States in fulfilling their tasks for the protection of cultural heritage. To have direct access to these sources of law and to develop the ability to analyse them gives the students some fundamental reference parameters that have plenty of operative implications for several jobs in the cultural heritage working sector and offers them wider horizons of reflection on the importance, function and hence management and use of cultural properties.

Teaching and Evaluation Methods

Teaching will take place through lectures and discussion of relevant documents during lessons.
Evaluation criteria:
30 % participation during classes (debate, analysis of the documents, etc.)
30 % written essay (max 5000 words) on a topic at students’ choice among those studied during the course (the title must be previously agreed with the professor). Students will present their essay in a final seminar.
40 % final discussion on topics and readings discussed during classes and on the essay.

Required preliminary knowledge

The basic notions of international law that are necessary to understand the operative dynamics of the sources to be analysed (international customs, treaties and acts adopted by international organizations) will be briefly introduced during the first week of the course.


Orientation week
Week 1-2: The course will begin with an introduction on the basic notions of international law, particularly on subjects and sources of international law (first two weeks – slides will be available to students after each lecture). Then it will address the following topics:

Basic principles underlying the protection of cultural heritage in the international legal order
Week 3
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

Week 4
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
Week 5
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

Week 6
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

Week 7: Midterm Break

Week 8
A specific protection for sites “of outstanding universal value”: the 1972 Paris Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage

Week 9
Granting protection to “the widest – submerged – museum of the world”: the 2001 Paris Convention on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage

Week 10
Beyond the “classic” heritage concept: the 2003 Paris Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage

Week 11
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

Week 12
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

Week 13
Complementarities 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

Week 14: Exam week


Compulsory readings:

- Mucci F., The Legal Protection of Cultural Heritage: a Comparative Analysis of Some Mediterranean National Legislations in the Light of the Relevant International Convention, in LA COMUNITÀ INTERNAZIONALE, vol. 2, 2003, pp. 287-300
- Mucci F., Short And Quickly Delivered, Yet Quite Full Of Meaning: The International Criminal Court Judgment About The Intentional Destruction Of Cultural Heritage In Timbuktu, in ITALIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC LAW, vol. 2-2016, pp. 415-423
- Mucci F., Armenian Cultural Properties and Cultural Heritage: What Protection under International Law One Hundred Years Later?, in Lattanzi F., Pistoia E. (edited by), The Armenian Massacres of 1915-1916 a Hunderd Years Later. Open Questions and Tentative Answers in International Law, Springer, 2018, pp. 161-179.
- Mucci F., Building Resilient Peace through the Respect of Cultural Heritage and Pluralism: A Task for UN Peacekeeping Forces to Be Carried out in Cooperation with UNESCO, in Caracciolo I., and Montuoro U. (edited by), New Models of Peacekeeping Security and Protection of Human Rights The Role of the UN and Regional Organizations, Torino, 2018, pp. 119-129

General Reference Textbooks:
Pinton S. And Zagato L. (edited by), Cultural Heritage. Scenarios 2015-2017, Venezia, 2017, Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 878 pp.
Craig Forrest, International law and the protection of cultural heritage, Routledge, November 2010, ISBN: 978-0-415-46781-0, 458 pp.

Further specific readings and references will be provided and discussed during the course.


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

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

VAT: 02928970272