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Adjudicating Attacks Targeting Culture

On 27 May 2021, Hirad Abtahi defended his thesis 'Adjudicating Attacks Targeting Culture'. The doctoral research was supervised by Prof.dr. C. Stahn.

Hirad Abhati
27 May 2021
Leiden Repository

​​​​​​Collective identity can be altered by attacking culture’s tangible components (a temple) which are often a manifestation of or a support to their intangible (spiritual practice). That identity can also be altered by attacking culture’s intangible in isolation (prohibition of spiritual practice). The research determines the extent to which international adjudicatory mechanisms have considered the causes, means and consequences of intentionally attacking culture’s tangible and intangible components. The research then brings their separate practice together.

Based on treaty law, culture will be placed in a legal mould. Culture can be anthropical or natural, movable or immovable, secular or religious, tangible or intangible, regardless of terminology (cultural property, cultural heritage, intangible or tangible cultural heritage). Culture will then be placed in a judicial mould, in order to consider how natural and legal persons can invoke cultural damage in judicial proceedings. Culture is a legacy-oriented triptych made of local, national and international panels. While each panel makes sense in isolation, they are best understood when viewed together. State responsibility and individual criminal responsibility-based jurisdictions have accepted that attacking culture may be both tangible-centred and heritage-centred in terms of typology of damage. They have further recognised that the victims of such attacks can be natural persons as members of the collective or the collective as the sum of natural persons. But the victims can also be legal persons which may participate in judicial proceedings and seek reparations for harm sustained as a result of damage inflicted to their property (a museum’s building as well as its artefacts).

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