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Report on the intentional destruction of cultural heritage as a violation of human rights

9 August 2016
Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
To the General Assembly at its 71st session in October 2016


In the present report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights 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.


To prepare this report (A/71/317), the Special Rapporteur invited all relevant stakeholders to send their views on the intentional destruction of cultural heritage and share their experiences of the impact it has on human rights, especially cultural rights.

Contributions were particularly requested on the following issues:

  • What is the impact of the intentional destruction of cultural heritage on the enjoyment of human rights, and particularly, on cultural rights? What is the impact of destruction of tangible cultural heritage on intangible cultural heritage, on cultural practices and beliefs, and on the right of concerned persons to participate in cultural life?
  • What are examples of different situations illustrating the above (situations of armed / non armed conflict or international / internal conflict; destructions by States / Non-States actors; geographical or other diversity, etc.)?
  • What are examples of good practices, especially with regard to prevention and protection against destruction, as well as repatriation and reconstruction measures of cultural heritage, including through human and cultural rights education and awareness?
  • What strategies are in place to protect cultural heritage defenders at risk? Under which circumstances can they be considered as cultural rights defenders?

Learn more about the rights related to cultural heritage by visiting the page dedicated to this issue.

Inputs received

Responses from States

  1. Armenia 1 | 2
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Belgique
  4. Dominican Republic 1 | 2
  5. Georgia
  6. Greece
  7. Guatemala
  8. Italy
  9. Mauritius 1 | 2
  10. Philippines
  11. República del Salvador
  12. El Salvador - Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural
  13. Russian Federation (translation)
  14. Serbia
  15. United States of America
  16. Venezuela

Responses from NHRIs

  1. Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de México
  2. Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance Tanzania
  3. Commission nationale des Droits de la Personne du Rwanda 1 | 2
  4. Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia
  5. Defensoría del Pueblo de Panamá
  6. Iranian Human rights commission 1 | 2
  7. National Human Rights Commission of India
  8. National Human Rights Institute of Paraguay

Responses from other stakeholders

  1. Adam Blitz
  2. American Association for the Advacement of Science (AAAS)
  3. Americans for Democracy and & Human rights in Bahrain
  4. Ana Filipa Vrdoljak 1 | 2 | 3
  5. Antoon de Baets
  6. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  7. At-sik-hata
  8. Christiane Johannot-Gradis
  9. Christoph Doppelhofer
  10. Cultural survival
  11. Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality
  12. Emek Shaveh
  13. Emma Loosley
  14. Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa
  15. Fanny –Iona Morel - Observatory of diversity and cultural rights, Uni.Fribourg
  16. Geneva Call
  17. Human Rights Advocates 1 | 2
  18. Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
  19. Lea Chauveau
  20. Luigia Bersani (Italian)
  21. Marina Lostal and Emma Cunliffe
  22. Maya Leaders Alliance in Belize
  23. Minority Rights Group International
  24. Missouri’s Little Dixie Heritage Foundation 1 | 2
  25. Organization of Islamic Conference
  26. Patrice Meyer-Bisch –Observatoire de la diversité et des droits culturels
  27. Ram Puniyani
  28. Raman Maroz
  29. RASHID- Research, Assessment and Safeguarding of the Heritage of Iraq in Danger
  30. Republika Srpska
  31. Samuel Andrew Hardy
  32. Sawa Organisation for Human Rights
  33. Tamaynut NGO
  34. UNAMA-OHCHR Afghanistan
  35. UNESCO Chair on Cultural Landscapes and Heritage
  36. Youba Bathily
  37. Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica 1 | 2