International Institutions Between Cultural Heritage and Collective Memory: ICC and the Al Mahdi Case

Images of genocide, mass graves and torn families come to mind when one hears the term ‘war crime’. But does cultural heritage have similar legal rights? Is it protected by the Rome Statute? What lays in the future of cultural heritage protection against destruction? And where do the boundaries of law lie with regards to the rights of cultural objects? The purpose of this paper is to answer these questions by focusing on the relationship between cultural heritage, collective memory and law, looking into the 2016 International Criminal Court’s (ICC) judgement in the Al Mahdi case and the analysis of the 2021 ICC’s Policy on Cultural Heritage born in its wake, which will shape our perception of the cultural heritage protection in the years to come.