Dr Marina Lostal


Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict: the limits of an anthropocentric approach


This presentation examines the ICC Prosecution’s overarching strategy at the confirmation of charges stage in the case against Mr Al Mahdi, where emphasis was placed on the consequences that the destruction of the shrines in Timbuktu had for the local population. It is suggested that this anthropocentric line of reasoning followed by the OTP was historically inaccurate and strategically shortsighted. Using the example of the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the presentation explains how, in the long run, this anthropocentric approach can restrict the capacity to prosecute crimes committed against cultural heritage per se, and undermine the conceptual foundation for the special protection given to cultural property.


Marina Lostal is a lecturer in International Law at The Hague University. She holds a PhD from the European University Institute, and an LLM from the University of Cambridge. In 2017, she was appointed expert by the International Criminal Court in the Al Mahdi case and, since June 2018, she works as a consultant for the Trust Fund for Victims of the ICC in the implementation of the Al Mahdi reparations order. Her two most important publications in the field are a book entitled International Cultural Heritage Law in Armed Conflict, published by Cambridge University Press, and a co-authored report with Geneva Call on the relationship between armed-non state actors and the protection of cultural heritage.