This project investigates how human rights guarantees in relation to cultural heritageare being understood and implemented in the European Union (EU) and in its neighbouringcountries. Acknowledging the changing and often contested nature of the right to culturalheritage, the project endeavours to map how this right’s evolving content affects the forms of protection, access to and governance of cultural heritage within institutional, operational andlegal structures of the EU. In particular, the project deals with the complexity oforganizational and regulatory frameworks referring to cultural heritage and human rights inforce in the EU Members States, their interaction, cross-fertilization and conflicts. On theother hand, the project focuses on Poland, the United Kingdom and Italy – countriesrepresenting different cultural, political and legal traditions – and their relations with otherstates and non-state cultural communities. It endeavours to explore and understand how theright to cultural heritage is interpreted and enforced on the domestic level, and to draw someconclusions on how or whether these domestic interpretations and practices may affect the EU law-making and practice of law.
Firstly, the project will provide a theoretical re-conceptualization and re-constructionof the right to cultural heritage, focusing not only on positive law and jurisprudence, but alsoon soft-law rules, diplomacy and cultural cooperation as possible alternative devices forfostering inter-cultural dialogue and understanding. Secondly, in its practical perspective, theproject analyses how the technical tools used to manage and protect cultural heritage, inparticular digitization processes with the development of databases, virtual museums, etc., arecurrently considered and whether and how they could be further developed to strengthen theenforcement of the right to cultural heritage throughout the EU, including its external action.In this context, the project will elaborate recommendations and guidelines – openly accessiblevia a new online platform – concerning best practices on the use of cultural heritage for thebenefit of states and communities which all have an intrinsic interest in its protection andenjoyment.
As a result, the core objective of the project is to contribute to the development ofsustainable strategies for protecting and managing cultural heritage as a means to foster inter-national and inter-cultural dialogue within the European region and its external relation.