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 17: ICH and trade

Valentina Vadi


Several intangible cultural heritage controversies have arisen during trade negotiations and have been brought before the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) where states have claimed that regulatory measures affecting their economic interests are in breach of the relevant international trade law provisions. These disputes highlight the emergence of a clash of cultures between global economic governance and the protection of intangible cultural heritage. Has an international economic culture emerged that emphasises productivity and economic development at the expense of international cultural heritage? After a brief overview of the international legal framework protecting intangible cultural heritage at the international law level, this chapter investigates whether, and if so how, the WTO has dealt with intangible cultural heritage. Does the existing legal framework adequately protect intangible cultural heritage vis-à-vis economic globalisation? How does the WTO deal with intangible cultural heritage? Should the WTO DSM take into account the cultural concerns of the affected communities? Or are cultural concerns merely to be conceived as a disguised form of protectionism? What steps can be taken to ensure mutual supportiveness between different legal regimes protecting intangible cultural heritage on the one hand and trade on the other?

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