Universiteit Leiden

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Cultural Objects, Human Rights and International Law

The Summer School on Cultural Objects, Human Rights and International Law is a collaboration between the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies and the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Global Heritage and Development, in partnership with UNESCO Netherlands. It took place in The Hague from Monday 26 to Friday 30 August 2019. 

Course information

The return of cultural objects has been a constant concern of international law and an issue for museums since their establishment. From the well-known case of the Parthenon Marbles to the more recent campaign for the return of the Benin Bronzes, the discussion over the ethical and legal issues concerning colonial cultural objects has only intensified in recent years.

This unique programme, which brings together students and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, experience and perspectives, aims to give a broad overview of cultural heritage protection in international law with a special emphasis this year on cultural objects and human rights.

The course offers a range of opportunities to test the acquisition of knowledge and participants will engage with some of the most current debates concerning the role of international law in dealing with cultural objects. In particular, participants will acquire a solid understanding of the historical context of cultural takings, the international framework governing cultural objects,  the case law dealing with returns (including Nazi-looted art and indigenous cultural heritage), the ethical and legal issues surrounding colonial cultural objects, as well as the current problem of illicit trade and the global market in cultural objects today.

Lecturers and speakers include some of the world’s leading experts in the field, museum professionals and legal counsel involved in some of the cases of focus.

Why this Summer School?

The Summer School offers a unique opportunity to learn from well-known and influential academics and leading practitioners. The course also offers plenty of opportunities to network with fellow students and practitioners from all over the world. And last but not least, The Hague is a wonderful place to stay!

Target audience

This Summer School is open to students and professionals with a specific interest in the field.

Class size

To ensure active participation and exchange with teaching staff and fellow participants, a maximum of 40 participants will be admitted to this course. 

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