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Targeting Cultural Property: The Role of International Law

Author(s): Milligan, Ashlyn

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Abstract: Oftentimes the exigencies of war necessarily take primacy over the preservation of cultural property, but emerging norms and sentiments within the international community have signaled an increased desire on the part of states to preserve, for posterity, the cultural heritage of mankind. Thus, the critical question becomes: how do states balance these seemingly irreconcilable ends, and to what extent is the current state of the international legal regime able to facilitate an adequate response to the protection of cultural property during an armed conflict? This paper will examine current examples drawn from conflicts in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan in order to expound these questions and discuss in greater detail some of the factors that underpin the decisions made by states when they either deliberately target or are required out of military necessity, to use cultural property in armed conflict. This article will assess the ability of international law to address and mitigate the deleterious effect of these motivations before making several recommendations for international policy.
Publication Date: 2008
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Public and International Affairs
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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