DEMYSTIFYING THE IDEA OF INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE THROUGH THE LENS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The relationship between human rights and cultural heritage law is critical, but it has received insufficient attention in the literature, particularly among human rights experts. Cultural heritage has several elements and characteristics that have strong human rights dimensions (both positive and negative), including its role in cultural identity formation and affirmation, its relationship to the thorny notion of cultural diversity, the problem of cultural traditions or practices that flout human rights standards, and the potential of heritage to exclude and serve as the vehicle for expressing social and political tensions. The paper sketches out a trend to broaden the understanding of certain basic aspects of human rights, as well as some theoretical issues that cultural heritage raises, such as relativist perspectives and claims for collective rights. Cultural rights, while vital, are not the only human rights that apply to cultural heritage protection, and an attempt is made to assess the substance and effectiveness of existing intangible cultural heritage instruments in light of other relevant human rights. Although recent cultural heritage legislation has responded more to human rights demands, the soft law nature of the legislation and the strong reservation of State sovereignty are limiting factors; thus, at stake is the question, if human rights are well understood and applied, can they have a direct impact on intangible cultural heritage protection and who should control stewardship and the benefits of intangible cultural heritage.