Chicago Journal of International Law


Nations feel an obligation to provide-indeed, a nation's citizens may demand-protection for their "cultural property": the works of art or architecture, religious or historical artifacts, or other physical embodiments of a nation's cultural output. When, however, such property is transported abroad, reclaiming the property may be difficult, at best, and all but impossible by nonviolent means, at worst. This Comment proposes a framework for a new international treaty governing both the treatment of cultural property and the creation of an international body to resolve disputes and promote the protection of cultural property. This is not a new goal, of course, but the Comment's main contention is that it is possible to resolve the conflicts that have prevented past efforts in this regard from achieving meaningful success. In order to understand, much less resolve, the challenges inherent to this undertaking, a good deal of background is necessary. The term "cultural property" is difficult to define and the concept has a substantial history, so Section I briefly discusses this topic. Additionally, the challenges facing any international agreement regarding cultural property in the proposal, ratification, and application stages are legion, and numerous such challenges have proven their capacity as "deal breakers," so these problems will be examined in Section II. A number of proposed agreements have been adopted or have fallen short of meaningful adoption; there is agreement that none of these proposals is adequate, so an examination of these failed proposals is prerequisite to understanding the reasons why proposed agreements obtain ratification or fail. Sections III and IV examine these historical agreements and various proposals. Section V proposes the framework for a new, comprehensive solution to international cultural-property disputes. Finally, Section VI offers conclusions about the potential for implementing, either in whole or in part, the Comment's recommendations. [CONT]

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