Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Jean E. Krasno


cultural heritage, cultural property, international law, UNESCO, ICTY, terrorism


Cultural heritage has always been at risk during times of war. UNESCO first endeavored to address the issue shortly after World War II, in 1954, when it passed the first of three signature conventions to protect against the damage, destruction, and pillage of cultural property in times of armed conflict. Lacunae and other deficiencies in their frameworks, however, rendered these conventions difficult to enforce and largely ineffectual. This study offers an assessment of the strengths and limitations of the UNESCO system of cultural-heritage protection, with a particular focus on the 1954 Hague Convention. It is argued that, by superseding certain key liabilities therein, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) proved particularly influential in shaping more effective legal frameworks for protecting cultural heritage, as reflected in subsequent measures taken by UNESCO, the ICC, and the Security Council. The question of whether and to what extent the imperative to protect cultural heritage has achieved broad normative status is likewise evaluated. The study concludes with a brief assessment of recent cultural crimes in Iraq, Mali, and Syria, followed by a consideration of possible new frameworks for protecting cultural heritage that seek to improve on the limitations of existing systems and respond to the unique risks that currently imperil culture in conflict zones.



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