Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities

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J. Paul Getty Trust


Getty Publications Virtual Library



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This e-book is a collection of essays focussing on immovable cultural heritage vulnerable to attack. It can be accessed through the website of Getty Publications Virtual Library.

The e-book assembles thirty-eight experts from the heritage, social science, humanitarian, legal, and military communities. This volume’s guiding framework is the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a United Nations resolution adopted unanimously in 2005 to permit international intervention against crimes of war or genocide, based on the three pillars of prevent, react, and rebuild. R2P offers today’s policymakers a set of existing laws and international norms that can and—as this book argues—must be extended to the protection of cultural heritage. Essays consider the global value of cultural heritage and document recent attacks on people and sites in China, Guatemala, Iraq, Mali, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. The e-book contains comprehensive sections on vulnerable populations as well as the role of international law and the military to protect both people and cultural heritage.

Getty is a cultural and philanthropic institution dedicated to the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy. Through the collective and individual work of its constituent programs—Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Foundation, J. Paul Getty Museum, and Getty Research Institute—Getty pursues its mission in Los Angeles and throughout the world, serving both the general interested public and a wide range of professional communities in order to promote a vital civil society through an understanding of the visual arts. 

Some of the contents of the e-book are:

  • Cultural heritage under attack: Learning from history
  • The written heritage of the Muslim World
  • Performative destruction: Da’esh (ISIS) ideology and the war on heritage in Iraq
  • The destruction of Aleppo: The impact of the Syrian War on a World Heritage City
  • Yemen’s manuscript culture under attack