The international protection of cultural property : some skeptical observations
Eric A. Posner
Host item entries:
Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 8, no. 1, Summer 2007, p. 213-231
The author argues that the legal regimes established by the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict are misconceived. Both regimes assume that cultural property is distinctive or special, and therefore different from ordinary property; however, it turns out that it is hard to make sense of this assumption. There is no good argument for international legal regulation of cultural property, during peacetime or wartime. The author argues that the UNESCO Convention likely has perverse effects and that the treatment of cultural property would improve, even during wartime, if the current regime of international regulation were abolished.