University of Technology Sydney

78261 Special Topics in International Law and Cultural Heritage

Requisite(s): (70106c Principles of Public International Law AND 70107c Principles of Company Law AND (94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04236 Juris Doctor OR 142 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04250 Juris Doctor Master of Business Administration OR 94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04363 Juris Doctor Master of Intellectual Property OR 94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04364 Juris Doctor Graduate Certificate Trade Mark Law and Practice)) OR (94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04320 Juris Doctor Graduate Certificate Professional Legal Practice AND 70106c Principles of Public International Law) OR ((22 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C07122 Graduate Diploma Legal Studies OR 22 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04264 Master of Legal Studies))
The lower case 'c' after the subject code indicates that the subject is a corequisite. See definitions for details.
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses. See access conditions.


This subject surveys international legal protection of cultural heritage. It provides students with a critical overview of the key areas of international cultural heritage law by focusing on its theoretical, substantive and procedural aspects, and its impact on public international law generally.

Although forms of legal protection of cultural heritage have existed since the Renaissance, these initiatives are largely fragmented. However, rapid and diffuse developments in recent decades are leading to the emergent field of international cultural heritage law. This is reflected in the adoption of a range of international instruments covering tangible and intangible heritage, from the monumental to the ephemeral, affording protection during peacetime and armed conflict. Likewise, countries are enacting legislation or overhauling existing laws within their own territory. Beyond these specialist legal conventions, culture and cultural heritage are informing other legal fields including international investment law, e.g. the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and international trade law; the World Trade Organization; international criminal law (as reflected in the case law of the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia); intellectual property and the ongoing work of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on traditional knowledge, human rights law, and the rising discourse on cultural rights, indigenous peoples and minorities; and legal theory from liberalism to the latest iterations of critical legal theory.

The subject pays special attention to Australia's role in the development of key aspects of the international protection of cultural heritage, the impact of these international instruments on Australia's protection of cultural heritage and cultural rights, and the protection of the heritage and cultural rights of Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

Students engage in reading and discussion of foundational legal instruments, case law, and theoretical texts which define and inform the field of international cultural heritage law. Through select case students consider how the law has developed and the central cleavages and debates which inform the field today.

Detailed subject description.

Access conditions

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