Netherlands, Amsterdam

Heritage at War: Cultural Objects in Times of Conflict

when 5 August 2017 - 19 August 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1150

Cultural artefacts and antiquities have become part of the arsenal of modern warfare. And its victims. Their deliberate destruction, looting and trafficking has been part and parcel of conflicts from the former Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. There have been other less known but not less extensive waves of looting during times of conflict. Examples are the massive one-way traffic of objects of cultural and historical importance during five centuries of European colonialism, and the massive confiscation of art-works by the Nazis.

In this course we look at these recent and historical practices, how they relate to other war crimes, and how to organize its restoration or restitution afterwards. What are the roles of law and morality in these contexts? Does international law and its enforcement protect cultural heritage in the present and in the past? And what about extra-legal responses?

Eminent experts in the field examine these issues from legal, criminological, historical and other perspectives, practical as well as theoretical. The framework they provide also covers approaches to the looting of cultural objects in the colonial era, post-colonial claims for the return of human remains and other cultural artefacts and the restitution of Nazi-looted art. The course is organized by the Centre for International Criminal Justice (CICJ), a leading global player in research on international criminal law and the criminology of international crimes, in collaboration with CLUE+, the VU Research Institute for Culture, History and Heritage.

Course leader

Prof. Wouter Veraart, Dr Jos van Beurden, Evelien Campfens, Tabitha van Oost and guests

Target group

Advanced Bachelor’s/Master’s/PhD

Course aim

Learning objectives:

• You understand and can apply international legal frameworks protecting cultural objects in times of war and conflict.
• You can relate the intentional destruction of cultural heritage to other war crimes, such as ethnic cleansing and genocide.
• You are familiar with specific cases of post-conflict restitution of cultural artefacts, and their challenges.
• You can reflect creatively upon the dynamics between various legal and extra-legal approaches to disputes around looted artefacts and historical

Credits info

54 contact hours

Fee info

EUR 1150: Included in the tuition fee are:

• Airport pick-up service
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• 24/7 emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course


• Early bird discount of €150
• €250 discount for students from partner universities.
• 10 scholarships available that cover the full tuition fee of one course.
• Combine 2 courses: €100 discount
• Combine 3 courses: €200 discount

Register for this course
on course website