Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage
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Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage

Law and Heritage

Edited by Charlotte Waelde, Catherine Cummings, Mathilde Pavis and Helena Enright

Bringing together key insights from expert legal and heritage academics and practitioners, this book explores the existence and safeguarding of contemporary forms of intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Providing a detailed analysis of the international legal frameworks relevant to ICH, the contributing authors then go on to challenge the pervasive view that heritage is about ‘old’ tangible objects by highlighting the existence, role and importance of contemporary forms of ICH to modern society.
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Chapter 3: Protection and promotion of cultural heritage and human rights through international treaties: two worlds of difference?

Yvonne Donders


The link between human rights and cultural heritage, in particular intangible cultural heritage, has been increasingly established. Despite the recognition of the link between cultural heritage and human rights, it should be noted that the two topics are laid down in different international treaties adopted within different intergovernmental fora. These treaties show interesting differences in terms of their nature and approach. This chapter analyses the similarities and differences between several treaties on human rights and on cultural heritage adopted at international and regional level. Attention is paid to the different nature of these treaties and the differences resulting therefrom in relation to several issues, such as the scope of application, rights and obligations, reciprocity, reservations, denunciation, and monitoring. This analysis shows that although human rights and cultural heritage are clearly linked as values and that the protection of cultural heritage has important human rights components, the international legal underpinning of these values is rather different.

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