French | Spanish

The intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights


Geneva, Place des Nations, Memorial for Srebrenica ©
Parchment in Aramaic language of readings for Sundays and holidays. XIth-XIIth Century. Collection of manuscripts of the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babel, Iraq, CNMO. CPB_00435
folio 076. 
© Photo Fr. Najeeb Michaeel op.

In her first report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/59) and building on the report of devoted to the right to enjoy and access cultural heritage (A/HRC/17/38), the Special Rapporteur presented her initial observations about the intentional destruction of cultural heritage and indicated her intention to study this issue more in depth for her upcoming report to the General Assembly. This decision was welcomed by a cross-regional statement made to the Council in March 2016 by an unprecedented coalition of 145 States. The statement condemned intentional destruction of cultural heritage and called for identification of best practices for its prevention, and for “raising awareness on the mutually reinforcing relation between the protection of cultural heritage and human rights and on the risks faced by defenders of cultural heritage.”

 

In her first report to the General Assembly (A/71/317), the Special Rapporteur sets out a human rights approach, which she has developed, to the intentional destruction of cultural heritage, in conflict and non-conflict situations, by States and non-State actors. She examines the impact of such destruction on a range of human rights, including the right to take part in cultural life; calls for effective national and international strategies for preventing, and holding accountable those alleged to have taken part in, such destruction; and also calls for support for and protection of defenders of cultural heritage.

Call for submission to 2016 GA report and responses received

"Time to end intentional destruction of cultural heritage: a human rights call to action", Side event, 27 October 2016, NY. Watch the webcast video.

"Destruction of cultural heritage is a human rights issue", opening video speech of Plácido Domingo at the side event

Panellist Father Najeeb Michael, a defensor of culture against Daesh, responds to UN Radio (French only)

Futher developments

HRC adopts resolution 33/20 on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage (September 2016)

Joint statement on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage (March 2016)

Intersessional seminar on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage, 7 July 2017, Geneva

HRC adopts resolution 37/17 on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage

A group of cities and local governments adopt the Geneva Declaration "Human Rights and cultural heritage: committed cities working together", an initiative supported by High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Other documents

Expert contribution of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights to the International Criminal Court case "The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi", 27 April 2017.