Progetto HEURIGHT14

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Project’s overall description

This project investigates how human rights guarantees in relation to cultural heritage are being understood and implemented in the EU and in its neighbouring countries. It focuses on Poland, the United Kingdom and Italy - countries representing different cultural, political and legal traditions - and their relations with other states and non-state cultural communities. The regions on which the project focuses are Poland in relation to Germany and Ukraine; the U.K. in relation to former dependent territories and Italy in its external relationships with the neighbouring Western Balkan countries. Acknowledging the changing nature of the right to cultural heritage, the project’s main innovative goals are (i) to provide a description of the many meanings of this right for the European communities and for the project of the EU integration, and (ii) to map how this right’s evolving content affects the forms of protection, access to and governance of cultural heritage.
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Research Team of Trieste

Research context

 The specific cultural and legal traditions that characterize the countries of the Western Balkan area, their recent past of wars, and the current process of their gradual accession to the EU, justify a specific interest in studying how human rights guarantees in relation to cultural heritage are being understood and implemented in this region. Here ethnic and religious diversity have represented, in recent history, more a factor of conflict and separation between communities than a factor of cultural richness, one promoting mutual understanding and tolerance. From 1991 to 1995 in the territories of the former Yugoslavia the warring factions involved in the conflict adopted systematic plans for the destruction of religious and cultural sites and objects with the deliberate intention of humiliating and eliminating the enemy ethnic groups.

After these dramatic events, respect for, and the protection of, minorities and cultural rights, as well as an improvement in regional cooperation to address war crimes issues are under constant scrutiny by EU institutions and constitute an important part of the conditions of accession established by the Stabilization and Accession Agreements with the Western Balkan countries.
Cultural cooperation is intended, inter alia, to raise mutual understanding and esteem between individuals, communities and peoples. Acceding countries should also undertake to cooperate to promote cultural diversity, notably within the framework of UNESCO legal instruments and standard-setting. With particular reference to Serbia, a path towards the comprehensive normalization of its relationships with Kosovo is particularly important for the EU accession process.

Research goals

 The research will focus on Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia in their mutual relationships as well as in their relationships with neighbouring countries, included contested territories.

The general aims of the study will be, firstly, to identify the current legal and meta-legal techniques of cultural heritage protection and restitution issues in each of these countries, in order to produce a reliable map of existing legislation and practice.

Secondly, the project will assess how cultural heritage protection is perceived by the relevant communities (e.g. whether rights to cultural heritage are perceived as factors for the separation or harmonization of cultural differences). Particular attention will be devoted to the interconnection between the rights to cultural heritage and religion, as means that can be used to build the identity of the communities living in these countries. The legacy of the communist past and its relationship with religion and cultural rights will also be addressed.

Thirdly, the research will identify the role that cultural heritage protection may play in the process of the Europeanization of these countries, studying whether the identification of new sustainable strategies for the protection and management of cultural heritage may help these countries in the preparation or implementation of their access to the EU, fostering cultural cooperation and minorities’ protection which are so crucial for EU enlargement within this region.

The individuation of a series of case studies as the primary object of research for the Italian team will help analyse the above aspects.

Informazioni aggiornate al: 25.2.2016 alle ore 17:08