Print version

Terrorism, Conflicts and the Responsibility to Protect Cultural Heritage


Intentional destruction of cultural heritage is a well-known phenomenon which has been particularly exacerbated in recent times. Its common denominator is represented by the intent to persecute the communities for which that heritage represents an essential element of their cultural identity and distinctiveness. In legal terms, it produces different implications, to the point that – depending on the circumstances in which it is perpetrated – it may be qualified as a war crime, crime against humanity, violation of internationally recognised human rights, or evidence of the existence of the intent to commit genocide. Since the whole international community is seriously affected by the destruction of cultural heritage, it is indispensable that the doctrine of responsibility to protect (R2P) be put into practice seriously and effectively with the purpose of protecting humanity against the irreplaceable loss of its heritage.
Keywords: R2P; cultural heritage; crime against humanity; intent to persecute; cultural identity; intentional destruction