Are all nations obligated to protect one another’s cultural heritage?

This was a poll question picked up over at http://www.savingantiquities.org.

Firstly I have to give my own response which is a resounding yes. I absolutely believe that all nations have a shared responsibility for the cultural heritage of the planet as a whole. I have a great deal of respect for groups like Blue Shield who attempt to protect heritage across the globe. There are few cultures which develop in isolation and so any particular culture has some degree of “world” heritage in its nature. Furthermore, even without a direct connection to the heritage in question is strikes me as incredibly close minded not to see the value of other cultures.

That said, I recognise that there are difficulties in implementing this obligation. I think the poll responses generally reflect that concern, with a number of voters choosing to limit assistance to countries with stable governments, a lack of corruption and adequate museum facilities. This seems shortsighted to me – after all, the heritage in countries lacking these three things is generally the material at greatest risk. Artefacts in a stable country with resources are usuaully protected by that country – other nations are under no pressure to act. It is these vulnerable artefacts above all others that all nations should be obliged to protect.

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