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Emory International Law Review Recent Developments

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There is a long global history of invading countries laying claim to the cultural heritage object of the states they conquer. In the modern age, there is some international law in place to govern the repatriation of misappropriated (stolen) cultural heritage items. However, none of the applicable conventions is retroactive, rendering them ineffective concerning all objects misappropriated prior to 1954. Given the timing of globalization and global colonization practices, this means that the range of object to which existing international law applies is very limited indeed. This comment proposes a new legal framework for repatriation of cultural heritage objects incorporating timing principles from pillage law to counteract this lack retroactivity in contemporary international law in the case of certain qualifying artifacts.

The proposed framework requires a two-prong analysis, the goal of which is to determine on a case-by-case basis if an item is both a cultural heritage artifact and a pillaged good. The problems of lack of retroactivity in contemporary international law and the workings of the newly proposed framework can be vividly illustrated using the Darya-i-Noor, a famous, massively valuable pink diamond with a fascinating history originating in India and seized by Iran.

This publication is a shortened version of the original article which contains a second case study focusing on the Koh-i-Noor diamond and incorporates analysis of English possession. The full version is available on request to the author.



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