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The Australian National University

The 1954 Hague Convention: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sacred Sites as Cultural Property

Thomas Wooden Vol 34 (2016)
Articles

It is widely assumed that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sacred sites are not cultural property for the purposes of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, commonly known as the 1954 Hague Convention. Challenging this assumption, this article breaks down and analyses the Convention’s lengthy definition of ‘cultural property’ to determine whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sacred sites can be considered cultural property. Upon the conclusion this interpretation, it is determined that such sacred sites should be afforded protection as cultural property under the 1954 Hague Convention. This article is the first of its kind to analyse whether Indigenous Australian sacred sites are cultural property for the purposes of the 1954 Hague Convention. This is important not only for Australia, but for all States with indigenous people, as it provides a framework for determining whether indigenous sacred sites can be considered cultural property under the 1954 Hague Convention. If States adopt and acknowledge this article’s interpretation of the 1954 Hague Convention and its finding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sacred sites are cultural property, future armed conflicts may be markedly altered due to increased obligations to protect this form of cultural property.

Vol 34 (2016)

Table of contents

Updated:  19 October 2016/Responsible Officer:  Australian Year Book of International Law Director/Page Contact:  AYBIL Web Publisher