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Investing in Culture towards Economic and Social Development: International and European Law Perspectives

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Complexities of investing in cultural heritage

Investing in cultural heritage across borders has led to increasing international legal disputes. A study of this phenomenon will help to overcome the challenge.

Climate Change and Environment

International investment often clashes with protection of cultural heritage, creating legal challenges and blockages that are not healthy for any economy. The EU-funded project INVESTEUCULT investigated the dynamics between investor interests and cultural policies. It looked at protectionist culture policies and any limits, and studied several cases on the topic. More specifically, the project mapped key investor–state arbitrations and recommended legal ways to overcome differences, evaluating related EU policies on culture and investment. Interviewing different stakeholders and experts, it underlined how courts resort to cultural protectionism and analysed case studies from two angles: international cultural law and international investment law. This interdisciplinary approach, supported by participation in workshops and conferences, allowed the project team to publish several articles in key journals on the topic. This included the recently published book 'Cultural Heritage in International Investment Law and Arbitration'. In addition, the results of a project workshop on the topic led to another publication titled 'Culture and International Economic Law'. Overall, the project and related publications demonstrated how arbitrators are increasingly considering cultural issues to protect cultural heritage in times of peace and times of war. This is important since EU foreign direct investment contributes to the global economy, and the EU strives to increase legal certainty for investors by reducing the perceived business risk. Culture is also important for European integration, as the EU has introduced legal mechanisms that integrate cultural concerns in trade instruments. Against this backdrop, the project increased social and political awareness regarding legal protection of cultural heritage. It paved the way to promoting cultural entitlements, contributing to conflict prevention and dialogue among nations and civilisations. Policymakers, governments, academics and investors could all benefit from this knowledge, helping to balance between preserving cultural heritage and encouraging sound investments.


Cultural heritage, legal disputes, international investment, cultural protectionism, international cultural law, arbitration, trade instrument

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