Article Title

The role of non-state actors in the cultural heritage field - the case of the Orthodox Church and its heritage in Turkey


The involvement of non-state actors in legal regimes concerning the protection of cultural heritage has been identified as a key challenge facing the development of international law in this field. This challenge is intensified when the relevant cultural heritage under consideration takes the form of religious sites whose use by a church community (non-state actor) for the purposes of its religious activities has been impacted upon by circumstances such as war or inter-ethnic conflict resulting in the displacement of that church community. This article contributes to this discussion by reference to a significant non-state actor in the field of religion and global affairs – the Orthodox Church – and specifically by reference to the Church’s heritage in Turkey. After providing the reasons which justify a scholarly legal examination of the Church’s assertion of rights with respect to its heritage in Turkey, as well as an outline of the main measures which have been applied by Turkish authorities to this heritage, the article proceeds to offer a tentative overview and analysis of the relevant legal and policy framework and suggests certain issues requiring further scholarly exploration. It is argued that in addition to providing useful insights about the role of nonstate actors in the cultural heritage field, such further exploration can offer useful insights about a related topic which is currently relatively unexplored by cultural heritage commentators, namely, the post-conflict management of religious sites.


cultural heritage law, religious heritage, non-state actors, Orthodox Church

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