University of Leicester
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The common heritage of all mankind: a study of cultural policy and legislation pertinent to cultural objects.

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posted on 2009-05-18, 10:06 authored by Sonja Tanner-Kaplash
Government policy is subject to many influences, which may range from a philosophical position arising from changes in the value systems of a given society, to logistic considerations, such as available methods of implementation and the prevailing economic structure. The value system known as "the common heritage of all mankind" - the long-term global stewardship of natural and man-made resources - is explored in this thesis in the context of cultural policies, specifically those concerning cultural objects. Heritage, linked to the concept of inheritance as a legally protected future interest, is traced in its historical migration from the private sphere to the development of national public assets to an international awareness of global stewardship. Implementing legislation is a salient indicator of cultural policy; the cyclical relationship in which legal precepts internalized by a society from earlier laws become integral to the cycle of policy formulation and application is illustrated, featuring legislation from several States. While the thesis is cast within a particular philosophical framework, practical economic realities are among the most important logistic considerations for government policy development. Illicit activities have been recognized as a major threat to cultural objects in the modern world, in addition, these objects are frequently "luxury goods" for which historically, regulation and taxation have been the rule rather than the exception; the thesis argues for a practical, domestic and economic approach to the problem of protection. This implies control of cultural objects in some form, including the documentation of significant pieces. The thesis conclusions propose that both the responsibilities and associated costs could be defrayed and shared by governments and the private sector by means of a licensing program.



Lewis, Geoffrey; Williams, Sharon

Date of award


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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