As we all know that cultural heritage simply means taking caring the famous
and incredible things made of the human beings. Different countries having
different kinds of culture and tradition which is very close to their heart. It
is the identity of their country and one of the major source of earning in
Culture refers to the way of life of a specific group of people. It can be seen
in ways of behaving, beliefs, values, customs followed, dress style, personal
decoration like makeup and jewellery, relationships with others and special
symbols and codes. Culture is passed on from one generation (parents) to the
next (children). Culture is not static as each generation contributes its
experience of the world and discards things that are no longer useful to them.
Heritage is anything that is considered important enough to be passed on to the
future generations. Heritage is broadly categorized into two main divisions:-
Cultural Heritage refers to the cultural aspects like heritage sites, monuments,
folklore, traditional activities and practices, language etc. that are
considered vital to be preserved for the future generations. It gives people a
connection to certain social values, beliefs, religions and customs.
According to ICOMOS, (2002) Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of
living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation,
including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values.
Cultural Heritage is often expressed as either Intangible or Tangible Cultural
Heritage. In tangible culture includes (buildings, monuments, landscapes, books,
works of art, and artifacts, intangible culture (folklore, traditions, language,
and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant
landscapes, and biodiversity).[i]
There are various types of international law on the protection of the cultural
heritage following are the some of the laws ,conventions, treaties or
- The 1954 Hague Convention was drawn up after the widespread devastation
of cultural property in World War II. Together with its two Protocols of
1954 and 1999, it is the most widely recognised international treaty exclusively
dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict. The treaty
stipulates a number of measures that States and the armed forces should conduct
during peacetime to prepare for conflict, and provides a regime for its
protection during fighting.
Article 1 of the Convention provides a (non-exhaustive) definition of the types
of cultural property that are eligible for protection under the Convention
provided that they are: of great importance to the cultural heritage of every
Article 1. Definition of cultural propertyFor the purposes of the present Convention, the term `cultural property� shall
cover, irrespective of origin or ownership:
- movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural
heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or history,
whether religious or secular; archaeological sites; groups of buildings
which, as a whole, are of historical or artistic interest; works of art;
manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or
archaeological interest; as well as scientific collections and important
collections of books or archives or of reproductions of the property defined
- buildings whose main and effective purpose is to preserve or exhibit the
movable cultural property defined in sub-paragraph (a) such as museums,
large libraries and depositories of archives, and refuges intended to
shelter, in the event of armed conflict, the movable cultural property
defined in sub-paragraph (a);
- centers containing a large amount of cultural property as defined in
sub-paragraphs (a) and (b), to be known as `centers containing monuments�.
The States that are party to the Convention benefit from the mutual commitment
of more than 130 States who are committed to sparing cultural heritage from
consequences of possible armed conflicts. States and their armed forces should
implement a number of proactive safeguarding measures in peacetime to prepare
for armed conflict.
- adoption of measures such as the preparation of inventories identifying
significant cultural property of great importance to the nation;
- consideration of the possibility of registering a limited number of
refuges, monumental centres and other immovable cultural property of very great
importance in the International Register of Cultural Property under Special
Protection in order to obtain special protection for such property;
- consideration of the possibility of marking important buildings and
monuments with the distinctive emblem of the Convention � the Blue Shield �
to facilitate their recognition.
- Proactive preparation of protective measures:
- preparation for the removal of movable cultural property or the
provision for adequate in situ protection of property,
- Proactive preparation of emergency measures:
- developing and practicing emergency measures for protection against fire
or structural collapse;
- Competent authorities
- designation of competent authorities responsible for the safeguarding of
cultural property; and establishment of special units within armed forces to
be responsible for the protection of cultural property;
These are supported by requirements for awareness raising, and training as
- developing respect for all cultural property (that of the State and
- wide promotion of the Convention within the general public and target
groups such as cultural heritage professionals, the armed forces or
The Convention also has measures to be carried out during armed conflict which
- refraining from any use of the property and its immediate surroundings
for purposes likely to expose it to destruction or damage, and refraining
from any act of hostility directed against such property
- use of respect for the regimes of Special and Enhanced protection
- sanctions for breaches of the Convention;
- implementation of the protective regimes developed during peacetime if
required, such as evacuation to refuges; and
- a regime for managing and enforcing the Convention during conflict (the
Regulations of Control).
In addition to the general protection provided to cultural property of great
importance by the Convention, assuming certain conditions are met, a limited
number of locations of cultural property of very great importance (immovable
cultural property, centres containing monuments , and refuges of movable
cultural property) may be entered onto UNESCO�s International Register of
Cultural Property under Special Protection, which provides a higher level of
immunity in conflict from all State Parties to the 1954 Convention.
The Second Protocol (1999) provides an additional protection regime
called Enhanced Protection for cultural property of the greatest importance to
humanity, again assuming certain conditions are met. This protection regime
provides an even higher level of immunity, but only if all sides in the conflict
are party to the Second Protocol. Sites that are registered for Enhanced
Protection are listed on UNESCOs website.
Although the 1954 Hague Convention and its Protocols are treaties, and so are
normally only binding on those States that have signed them, many parts of the
1954 Hague Convention are so widely implemented that the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) considers them to be part of customary international
law, and so deems them to be binding on all parties in a conflict at all times.
The 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention makes the provisions of
the convention and both protocols applicable to non-international armed
By October 2018, the main Convention has been ratified by 133 States, the First
Protocol by 110, and the Second Protocol by 82 States.
The Convention and its Protocols should be interpreted in light of the laws of
armed conflict, in particular the principles of necessity, proportionality,
distinction, good faith, humane treatment, and limitation. Learn more about the
Laws of Armed Conflict in our Customary Law section. [ii]
- The major issue of the preservation of cultural heritage preoccupied the
international community in general, i.e. in times of peace, because the
threats were real and in no way restricted to only times of war. The ever
worsening environmental conditions, climate change, illegal trafficking of
cultural goods, acts of terrorism are some of the problems that can arise in
After the foundation of UNESCO, Conventions began to be adopted in order to
safeguard, preserve and protect cultural heritage at a worldwide level. The
International Convention concerning prohibiting and preventing the illicit
import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property of UNESCO (1970)
and the International UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural
and Natural Heritage (1972) were the central core around which cultural
protection was formed.
This framework was recently supplemented by the
Convention on the underwater heritage signed in 2001 and the Convention on the
Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, signed in
2005. Equally important was the Convention for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage signed in 2003. This includes new concepts and is a
springboard for a more complete and balanced perception of humanity's cultural
heritage. Particular reference should be made to the 2003 UNESCO Declaration on
the intentional destruction of cultural heritage which was unanimously adopted
by all Member States of UNESCO.
However, it does not constitute an obligatory legal document binding states at
an international level. According to this 2003 Declaration, Member States commit
to combat the intentional destruction of cultural heritage, both in wartime and
in peacetime. In peacetime, states are strongly suggested to follow all
international recommendations and conventions, while in time of war states are
called upon to respect customary international law, international conventions
and UNESCO recommendations.
However, a highly important issue included in this
Declaration is the recognition of responsibility on behalf of both States and
individuals regarding destruction of cultural heritage: States bear
responsibility for any intentional destruction of cultural heritage and
individuals bear legal responsibilities for criminal activity involving cultural
heritage. International law together with state participation in international
contracts imply a direct obligation of every state according to which internal
rules of law must be in accordance with international requirements.
Specifically, components constituting cultural heritage should be protected, as
a whole or individually, by legislative or other regulatory measures.
Therefore, each state has the obligation and the right to provide a legal
definition of cultural goods. The obligation stems from international documents
and the right stems from sovereignty on cultural property situated in its
territory. Also, each state is obliged to ensure preservation and
non-destruction of its cultural heritage.
This is a general principle that all
states accept. An additional obligation refers to the preservation of cultural
diversity that is safeguarding of all cultures. This issue is seen as
particularly important and is especially highlighted due to relevant resolutions
adopted by the UN General Assembly.
Finally, if a State violates its
international commitments on issues related to cultural heritage, criminal and
administrative penalties are foreseen. It can be easily seen that there was an
imperative the need for the establishment of international norms for the
protection of cultural heritage in peacetime.
So far, there have been considerable efforts in this direction but there is
still several room for improvement due to the increasingly urgent need to
protect cultural heritage and also due to new sorts of challenges. [iii]
- ICOMOS works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places.
It is the only global non-government organisation of this kind, which is
dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology, and scientific
techniques to the conservation of the architectural and archaeological
ICOMOS is a network of experts that benefits from the interdisciplinary exchange
of its members, among which are architects, historians, archaeologists, art
historians, geographers, anthropologists, engineers and town planners.
The members of ICOMOS contribute to improving the preservation of heritage, the
standards and the techniques for each type of cultural heritage property:
buildings, historic cities, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites.
ICOMOS facts and figures (December 2018):10 546 Individual Members in 151 countries
271 Institutional Members
107 National Committees
28 International Scientific Committees[iv]
Reasons for the damages of Cultural HeritageThere are two types of threats:
- destruction of heritage sites and objects caused by war, poverty, and
- the looting and trafficking of objects that frequently arises out of
In wartime, destruction of heritage sites can be a result of collateral damage,
for example, when a bomb targeting one location inadvertently hits another; or
it can be the result of intentional damage, aimed to demoralize and insult the
values and religious and cultural symbols of an enemy. It is often difficult to
distinguish between collateral and intentional damage, and perpetrators may
claim deliberate destruction was an accident in an attempt to avoid prosecution.
In the Syria conflict, for example, you�ve probably heard about the destruction
caused by ISIS. However, the majority of damage to cities and to heritage has in
fact not been caused by ISIS, but by the Syrian government�s campaign of
relentless aerial bombardment, which has destroyed up to 70% of the fabric of
the ancient city of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
And though it�s easy to demonize a regime in a country far away, it�s important
to remember that similar levels of destruction were caused by both the Axis
powers and the Allies in World War II � for the Allies, most famously in
Dresden, where a British and American aerial campaign in 1945 left more than 70%
of the city in ruins.
The neglect of the occupying U.S. forces in Iraq in 2003
famously led to the looting of the National Museum of Iraq, with thousands of
objects lost, only half of which have returned, as well as the burning and
destruction of Iraq�s magnificent national library, including hundreds of
priceless manuscripts dating back to the 16th century. Deliberate or neglectful
destruction of heritage has long been a key strategy of war, and perpetrators
are rarely prosecuted for it.
The long history of the destruction of heritage shows us that the elimination of
culture has always been viewed as a powerful tool of domination and as a key
strategy for eliminating the value humans accord to their lives. In recent
years, the destruction of heritage:
whether through war, commercial
exploitation, and/or looting � has been defined by UNESCO as a form of cultural
cleansing. In taking human lives, oppressors erase the existence of individual
people: but in destroying culture, the memory and identity of entire peoples are
erased. It is not surprising to note, therefore, that the destruction of
heritage is often a precursor to genocide.
This is because in denying people
their past, perpetrators also deny them a future.
Nevertheless, wartime destruction of heritage is only a small fraction of the
overall loss of cultural heritage around the world. Much more significant and
long-lasting is destruction due to urban development, mineral and resource
extraction, climate change, tourism, and even natural disasters.
the ancient Buddhist site of Mes Aynak in Afghanistan is now threatened by
Chinese mining interests, a situation made famous in a recent documentary.
Similarly, the push to expand resource extraction on public lands in the United
States is also causing widespread loss of heritage, as at the Bears Ears
National Monument, which was controversially reduced by 85% in a decision signed
by President Trump in December 2017.
Although many heritage sites are preserved in order to encourage tourist
revenue, tourism can also cause massive destruction because of the large numbers
of people it can attract and also because transforming a site into a
tourist-friendly locale often profoundly transforms its meaning for local
people, who may find their connections to a place have been erased. Such is the
case at Dubrovnik, a city that was reconstructed by an international consortium
of donors after the Balkan war and which now finds itself managing a Game of
Thrones-inspired tourist influx that threatens to leave little of the original
city behind, a destruction that some residents have characterized as worse than
that during wartime.
If destruction of heritage during wartime is akin to a relatively sudden death,
looting is like a cancer that slowly erodes it. Looting is the theft of heritage
items for sale on the antiquities market, most often to wealthy private buyers
in the United States and Europe. As art history professor Nathan Elkins has
shown, the consequences of purchasing even small items like coins can be
devastating for our knowledge about the past. Once an object is removed from its
original environment, it instantly loses much of its ability to convey
information about how people once lived.
Archaeologists call the environment in which an object is found, its context.
Context is the object and its relationship to all the other objects and material
in an archaeological site. The relationships between these objects is what
enables archaeologists to recreate the past (objects that have been looted, and
thereby robbed of this context can be called ungrounded). As such, even the
smallest objects, such as ancient coins, can provide powerful evidence about the
lives of people in the past.
While locals are often blamed for looting, it is
important to point out that local looting is often subsistence looting � looting
carried out to supplement meagre incomes � and that it is only profitable
because it responds to demand in wealthy countries. The antiquities market is
vast, and as the Wall Street Journal reported last year, it has consequences far
beyond just loss of our knowledge about the past, since much like drug
trafficking, its profits fuel terrorism, criminal enterprises, and many other
forms of criminal activity.[v]
Laws in India for protecting the Culture Heritage
Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part
thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the
right to conserve the same" - Article 29 of the Constitution
"It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich
heritage of our composite culture" - Article 51 A(F) of the Constitution
Following are some of the Acts:
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958
came into force with effect from 29th August 1958. According to the Act,
ancient and historical monuments, sculpture carvings and other like objects,
archaeological sites and remains are protected and preserved. Archaeological
excavations are regulated and are of National importance.
- The Delivery of Books (Public Libraries) Act of 1952 provides for
delivery of books to the National library and Public Libraries. This was
amended on 29th December 1965 and named as the Delivery of Books & Newspaper
(Public Libraries) Amendment Act, 1956.
- The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 came into force with
effect from 9th September 1972. According to the Act export trade in
antiquities and art treasures is regulated and smuggling and fraudulent
dealings in antiquities and ancient monuments is prevented.
- Public Records Act of 1993 came into force with effect from 2nd March
1995. According to the Act the Central Government in the Department of
Culture has the power to permanently preserve public records which are of
- The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904
- The Treasure Trove Act, 1878
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act, 1958
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Rules, 1959
- The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972
- The Antiquities and Art Treasures Rules, 1973
- The Delivery of Books' and Newspapers' (Public Libraries) Act, 1954
- The Delivery of Books (Public Libraries) Rules, 1955 [vi]
How Protect the Cultural HeritageThere was various solution to preserve and protect the cultural heritage.Some of
the easy Solution for protecting our cultural heritage which is in our hand are
You or your organization can become a UNESCO partner and get involved in
conservation activities, world heritage promotion, mobilization of resources and
financial support. The World Heritage Center has partnered with various
international organizations, national institutions, privacy corporations and
non-profits over the years
Join the UNESCO interning or volunteering programs. The UNESCO accepts students
from a wide range of disciplines for strategic activities or to perform
administrative or technical functions. No experience is necessary for most
volunteer projects, which can range from patrolling the shores of the Galapagos
and excavating dinosaurs in Argentina to studying lake ecosystems in Siberia and
restoring archaeological sites in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Even if you choose not to join UNESCO, you can practice sustainable tourism by
respecting local culture and customs and not damaging sites or littering when
visiting. It is important to continue to visit sites, even endangered ones
(assuming that there is no immediate physical threat to visitors, such as
warfare or violent crime), so as to contribute to the local economy and to draw
attention to the constant need for repair and renovation.
- Spread Awareness:
You can help by creating an awareness of the importance of preserving these
invaluable sites by sharing news and links through social networking sites such
as Facebook and Twitter.
Lastly, monetary donations are the most direct way to support UNESCO and its
As quoted on UNESCO�s World Heritage site, we can work together to encourage
international cooperation in the conservation of our world�s cultural and
natural heritage to preserve our world for ourselves and future