LAW ET JUSTICIA LAW REVIEW
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1
INTENTIONAL DESTRUCTION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES DURING ARMED CONFLICTS – A WAR CRIME?
Ms. CHITHIRA VENUGOPAL,
ILS Law College, Pune
Cultural heritages are the treasure from the past that we seek to carry forward to the future. They are the symbol of spiritual and cultural identity of a community. This is also the focal reason why cultural heritage sites are targeted by enemy forces during a conflict. They seek to uproot the core values cherished by the opposing faction by destroying their cultural heritage. Various legal instruments concerning its protection have attempted to define the term, but as the notion is ever expanding, formulation of a strict definition inclusive of all ideas associated with the term is nearly impossible. This article seeks to review the debate over the classification of obliteration of cultural heritage sites during conflicts as war crime. The article first provides a detailed analysis of attempts to define the term and the value carried by them; then proceeds to the fundamental principles governing the conduct of parties to a combat. The article further provides a detailed explanation of different types of harms caused to the cultural heritage sites during conflict and gives an overview of various legal instruments framed aiming to prohibit any kind of destruction to sites along with various obligations cast on the states irrespective of whether it is party to the conflict or not. The article later proceeds to the concept of war crime, analyses each of the requirements provided for a conduct to be classified as war crime, and then evaluates if the act of destruction of cultural heritage sites during conflicts satisfies those requirements.