Proposed United Nations Resolution

"Resolution on Cultural Protections"

Lowry Burgess


This proposed Resolution is pursuant to the proposed "Declaration on the Right to Historic Cultural Memory."




The “Resolution On the Rights of Protections for Historic Cultural Properties and Resources” reaffirms existing protections and preservations asserting new precedence and procedures beyond present constraints in conditions 'warfare' or those catastrophes not officially called war by whatever circumventions. Enabling historic cultural protections will provide the world with legal and political force as well as needed cultural economic incentives. It is imperative for the preservation of historic cultural memory to include new definitions for ‘endangerment’ and ‘crisis’ that will give wider universal assurance to everyone.




Reiterating that the core this Resolution is care and protection for living historic cultures, these protections also pertain to culturally vacated abandoned sites, artifacts and graves;


Proclaiming that the vast body of traditional humanitarian Law: Common Law, Accords, Codes, Pacts, and Policies do not sanction destruction of historic cultural properties by anyone under any circumstance (other than when historical properties are used for direct military purposes). In endangered conditions it is crucial for the World to protect, proclaim and propagate, policies and rules including those proposed herein;


Knowing from daily experience that all things are interconnected and integrated; actions far from us come near, and reciprocally actions reach afar, even at the same moment; Realizing that global networking communication systems grow in flat immediate time dislocating locally rooted belonging; actual artifacts and monuments from deep historic time are now more personally and socially stabilizing; A rooted sense of place is a balance An equilibrium between local and global, past and future is foundational to planetary civilization and a basis for future peaceful communion;



‘Artifactual Memory’ is of enormous 'Worth'; that can be quantified, and thereby identified and given economic form to interact within the existing global finance networks to develop new economic forms that protect and preserve historical cultural sites and artifacts; Protections and conservation must garner economic incentives not only condemnation; A valuation process is a now possible within the Global Finance System through the United Nations, The World Bank, UNESCO, and The International Monetary Fund, including many NGOs, thereby creating a ‘Common-Wealth’ of Cultural History; Protecting and Preserving, restoration and conservation are essential to the future wellbeing and peace of the world; Commitment to historic preservation, thereby engaging the Global Finance System with new value-forms of extraordinary worth a new cultural economics; Historic cultural sites and objects, properties and resources are a titanic non-moving 'Value'.; A global financial framework that motivates and rewards historical preservation and conservation must be instantiated within existing financial networks and exchanges. In the Global Finance System, preservation and conservation then become economically advantageous to governments and other jurisdictions; Importantly, these 'Values' also become endogenous, circulating within a people and their culture, creating feelings of bonding with a possibly unknown or alien past, rather than alienation and fear;


Addressing the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to affirm previous protections and adopt the new expanded protections and provisions as herein defined, including new definitions for 'Endangerment' and 'Crisis'; “The RESOLUTION ON THE RIGHTS TO PROTECTIONS FOR HISTORIC CULTURAL PROPERTIES AND RESOURCES” is urgent and commands expeditious action.




The proposed Article, Declaration and Resolution seek a universal overarching umbrella of care, understanding and preservation seeking where possible to first protect those cultural treasures most endangered or abandoned, precarious or in immediate risk of destruction while minimizing distinctions, believing that the universal memory of the world is instantiated in living custom as well as historical sites and artifacts is the natural inheritance of everyone, requiring great care.


Recently, the World’s feelings have been stunned by extreme violence. This violence is reinforced by ever increasing manifestations of technological capacities for destruction, it is urgent to declare and enforce existing protections and propel new remedies for endangered historic cultural sites, objects, properties and resources, living or dead. Through new technologies manifest in recent destructions cultures and sites previously un-endangered have become vulnerable in all parts of the world. These new conditions acutely revealed the needed immediate remedy,


Contemporary hostility and illicit trade involving those historic cultural' properties' is clearly forbidden. Any authority that encourages or condones destructive or demeaning activity upon another culture or its history must be indicted by the United Nations and held accountable. It is increasingly imperative for rules and procedures to protect cultural historical properties, artifacts, and locations be immediately enforced and promulgated. It becomes incumbent upon the United Nations, UNESCO, other United Nations Agencies with the World Court to enact warrants for prosecution and arrest; Remembering that no ambiguous excuse used by any individual, government, or governmental agency used to create misinterpretation to the public, application, or expeditious excuse for usury or for removal or destruction of cultural historical properties is forbidden by a large body of historical law and ancient custom. Increasingly all individual nations must act in a concerted manner with the UN, UNESCO, and the World Court, to act swiftly both during hostilities in the immediate aftermath.


During and in aftermath of conflicts; Disincentives and punishment need to be actively enforced against individuals and societies, religions, states and countries. No legally constituted authority or force can stand by, either overtly or covertly and permit behavior that brands other cultures (individuals or societies) as 'other' and therefore deserving contempt; by allowing destruction, vandalism, looting and violence or reprisals aimed at dehumanizing, creating prejudice and fear; engendering abuse and neglect, at worst fostering the processes that leads to either rapid or gradual genocide. Overt actions, transgressions or tacit permissions given by any legal authority are immoral, unethical and illegal before the entire world.


It is necessary to develop multinational agreements that will permit immediate delivery of assistance within minutes of a crisis that endangers cultural or historical properties, artifacts, and locations. Many forms of aid can be deployed within minutes of a 'crisis', and more within a very few hours. If the United Nations is successful in providing aid in 'crisis' and 'endangerment' for the protection of historic cultural memory it will positively enforce confidence in global governance and mutual bonds amongst peoples.


The term ‘historic cultural property’ means those historical cultural objectifications that are deemed essential to understanding the richly variegated manifestations of human cultural invention that has accumulated within the past one hundred thousand years. What is meant by ‘historical’ in relation to ‘memory’ is more than ‘something-from-the-past’, rather, ‘historical’ embraces belonging to an evolving understanding of anthropological, archaeological, and cultural knowledge in which old and new discoveries can be situated, cherished, protected unperturbed.


Accepting that most cultures in the world customarily define ‘property’ in extremely divergent ways. Examples of these incompatibilities can be summarized: The historical and modern systems that use abstract lines on maps making borders, that are reinforced by treaties and laws, and usually backed by force; these lines on maps have usually created globally unending conflicts with few functional results. The other extreme of the concept of property is within cultures with complex sets of ceremonial liturgies that if properly performed guarantee the right of their culture to proper ownership - from the stars above to the waters beneath - from specific geological features and resources, extending to the horizons in a total web of meanings relating all aspects of their specific culture; in between are such complex concepts of Proprietorship, similar to the concept of human adoption, those who take care of and maintain resources of the land, making it life-giving. Also Cultural Property is given to those who locally and specifically care for the land and make the surrounding ecosystem flourish.  Further are Jurisdictions that contain cultural historical properties - from the local, or regional, including the Native Sovereign Nations enclosed within modern Nation States. There are other property jurisdictions that are tribal and traditional where ‘property’ is conveyed by custom from one generation to another. In these specific cultures environmental resources come from Nature as the gift of Life. The multiple property jurisdictions pertaining to sacred properties with their profound sacral significance, whether sites, shrines, churches, temples, graves, pilgrimage paths are the most sensitive ‘properties’ often requiring the convergence of customary, religious, and secular legal jurisdictions protecting both the sacred properties and the people within their egis. Through all of history special status and protections pertain to these sacred sites and the participants journeying to them, including pilgrims. These contradictions confront any cultural object or artifacts with the realization that, only rarely, do such objects appear in a simple condition. Hence, the difference between traditions and The Hague Conventions and the subsequent UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import and Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property—each code defines a slightly different domain hence nuances of value can affect the way a cultural artifact is understood and protected.  As a result, there are many gaps that lead to deep controversies over jurisdiction and ownership. The main historical fracture lines lie between the concept ‘one’s own’—the belonging to place, earth, language, or tribe becoming customary tradition and law expounded by Grotius, Locke, and Burke, most recently playing out in tribal claims upon cultural artifacts in conflict with the scientific community.  In contrast the concept of ‘for all’—belonging to God, humanity, the planet, articulated by Wyclif, Saravia, Filmer, Von Herder, Kant and Zouain, is seen in the universal claims of Science upon artifactual repositories.  Recent conflicts between native peoples and the sciences are instructive examples of the contradictions about historic properties and their contents. In Antarctic Law and Space Law the conflicts take on planetary and cosmic scales.


Identifying that there exists a communication network that instantaneously creates the potential for a fundamental database with the integration of all local or national computer-based information data banks on cultural and historic sites.  The truly enormous and powerful financial network called the Global Finance System can be engaged to create new stable value for historical cultural sites; and can be a significant resource for those countries and communities supporting cultural historical preservation; These 'Worth/Values' can be facilitated through the World Bank and World Bank, IMF, UNESCO and in general the United Nations that can expand the existing Accord between UNESCO and the World Bank.


It is important to point to previous positive multinational collaborations, as Abu Simbel, Ramesses II's tomb, (1964-68) and the ongoing efforts in repairing war damages and further uncovering of the extensive complex of a large capital Ankor Wat in Cambodia since 1974; And most recently, the valiant, yet unsuccessful, extraordinary efforts of independent nations; Japan, China, Iran, Russia, India, augmented by the many efforts of international religious organizations to save the Great Buddhas in Bamyan Afghanistan.  Even Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, personally met with Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban Government of Afghanistan, to forestall their destruction. The Roerich Pact of 1935 (endorsed by the Pan American Union) and The Hague Conventions expanded these claims upon common justice to a wider or more universal call while yet embodying the Worth/Value' of the local distinction:


  “Being Convinced that the damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever      means damage to the cultural heritage of mankind, since each people makes its contribution to    the culture of the world"...

The proposed Article, Declaration and Resolution affirm the Roerich Pact as historic precedent.




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