Heritage for Whom? Individuals' and Communities' Roles in International Cultural Heritage Law

AHRCentre Project Director Lucas Lixinski writes about the ways in which communities are excluded from international processes of heritage governance, to the point where international law in fact alienates people from their own heritage in a new publication - International Law for Common Goods: Normative Perspectives on Human Rights, Culture and Nature.

Edited by: Federico Lenzerini, Ana Filipa Vrdoljak  

International law has long been dominated by the State. But it has become apparent that this bias is unrealistic and untenable in the contemporary world as the rise of the notion of common goods challenges this dominance. These common goods typically values (like human rights, rule of law, etc) or common domains (the environment, cultural heritage, space, etc) speak to an emergent international community beyond the society of States and the attendant rights and obligations of non-State actors.

This book details how three key areas of international law human rights, culture and the environment are pushing the boundaries in this field. Each category is of current and ongoing significance in legal and public discourse, as illustrated by the Syrian conflict (human rights and international humanitarian law), the destruction of mausoleums and manuscripts in Mali (cultural heritage), and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (the environment). Each exemplifies the need to move beyond a State-focused idea of international law.

This timely volume explores how the idea of common goods, in which rights and obligations extend to individuals, groups and the international community, offers one such avenue and reflects on its transformative impact on international law.

To access this book from Hart Publishing, click here.

One of the examples Lucas discusses in most detail is the Molas produced by the Kuna indigenous people in Panama, see photo above of Mola girls.