Island Futures

Part of the series Global Environmental Studies pp 37-51

Ensuring the Viability of Cultural Heritage: The Role of International Heritage Law for Pacific Island States

  • Erika J. TecheraAffiliated withCentre for International & Environmental Law, Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University Email author 

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In recent decades, there has been increasing recognition of the economic, environmental and social importance and value of cultural heritage. At the same time cultural heritage has come under increasing pressure as the processes of modernization and globalization have been compounded by environmental degradation, with the threat of further losses due to climate change. The international community has responded with a rapid expansion of international law concerned with protecting all aspects of cultural heritage. In the past, greater attention was given to monumental heritage but more recently the focus has turned to include intangible elements, providing greater universality in the coverage of international heritage law. This chapter will focus upon the small island developing states of the Pacific and the approaches taken to cultural heritage conservation in that region. Particular attention will be drawn to governance gaps and the opportunities that the Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage may offer. Barriers to implementation will also be explored as they remain significant issues for the small island developing states in the Pacific region which have considerable cultural heritage but less legal recognition and protection of it.


Cultural diversity Cultural heritage Culture Intangible heritage International law Legal pluralism Pacific