In March 2001, the Taliban shocked the world by destroying the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan. Although international actors sensed that the destruction was wrong, they were left without a legal basis for objection or intervention. The incident highlighted the gaps in the international cultural heritage regime because international law does not address the permissibility of relics destruction during times of peace, though there is considerable attention given to its treatment during times of war. Nonetheless, economic development and the consequences of political ideology, frequently threaten sites of cultural heritage. This Article seeks to discern what operational norms exist with respect to peacetime destruction, particularly in cases of economic development and iconoclasm. The developing norm is traced through four case studies: (1) the Aswan High Dam and its threat to Abu Simbel and Philae Island, (2) Ceausescu 's systemization program and its threat to Romanian vernacular heritage; (3) the Ilisu Dam in Turkey and its threat to Hasankeyf; and (4) the Taliban and its destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. The Article concludes by evaluating the current norm and making recommendations for the future.
Monumental Challenges: The Lawfulness of Destroying Cultural Heritage During Peacetime,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol28/iss1/6