International Cultural Heritage Law

The summer school is organized by the Art-Law Centre and the UNESCO Chair in the International Law of the Protection of Cultural Heritage of the University of Geneva, in collaboration with the University of Miami School of Law.

The summer school aims to develop the students’ awareness and general understanding of the main substantive themes of international cultural heritage law, namely: the trade in cultural objects; the restitution of stolen or looted artworks; the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict; and the protection of the built heritage from natural and human-induced disasters.

The lecturers will examine the legal instruments adopted by UNESCO and other international organisations, such as the ‘Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict’, the ‘Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property’, and the ‘Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects’.

In order to offer an up-to-date glance at international cultural heritage law, the lecturers will describe its complex relationship with other fields of law – namely general international law and human rights law – and with the issue of dispute settlement. Moreover, the lecturers will provide an overview of the different ideological positions of the relevant stakeholders and of the risks and liabilities in the art trade.

Target Audience

The course welcomes applications from upper-year undergraduates, master’s degree students and PhD candidates in law and all other faculties, including art history, archaeology, sociology and anthropology. Practitioners, non-specialists and art enthusiasts may also apply.


The summer school may earn you the equivalence of 3 ECTS credit points. Evaluation will be based on attendance, class participation and a presentation on the last day of the course.

Course Credits

Equivalence of 3 ECTS.

Students will be provided with a Certificate of Completion for their course if they satisfy attendance.

Please note that this is not an official University of Geneva transcript, as Geneva Summer Schools courses are not accredited University of Geneva courses. It is the students’ responsibility to validate their course for credit at their home university before commencing the summer school, as specified in our Regulations.

Please note: Changes to the draft program may be made at any time prior to the start of the course.

Early Bird Deadline 15 February 2020:

CHF 1,000

Final Deadline 15 April 2020:

CHF 1,800

Special price for UNIGE students:

Free places available for 3 UNIGE students (excluded the compulsary 100 CHF of administrative fee). UNIGE students will be notified at the end of April.

CHF 300 for UNIGE students, starting from the fourth applicant

*Including 100 CHF non refundable administrative fees

The course will be taught by brilliant young scholars, renowned professors from various prestigious universities, as well as professionals from governmental agencies and international organizations. The University of Geneva staff comprises the team of the Art-Law Centre and of the UNESCO Chair in the International Law of the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Course Directors:

Professor Marc-André Renold

Faculty of Law
University of Geneva

Marc-André Renold (Dr. iur., LL.M.) studied at the Universities of Geneva and Basel in Switzerland and at Yale University in the United States.

He is Professor of art and cultural heritage law at the University of Geneva and the Director of its Art-Law Centre. He is also Attorney-at-law, Member of the Geneva Bar and is of counsel to a major Swiss- German law firm. His areas of practice are among others art and cultural heritage law, intellectual property and public and private international law. Marc-André Renold has been Visiting Professor at the Faculté Jean Monnet of the University of Paris Sud (2006-2007) and at the University of Lausanne (2008-2009). He has also lectured at the Hague Academy of International Law (Spring 2008) and the Institute for Mediterranean Heritage in Slovenia (summers of 2009 and 2010). He has been guest lecturer at the University Jean Moulin in Lyon, the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, as well as the Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law.

He is the author or co-author of several publications in the field of international and comparative art and cultural heritage law and has been, since its inception, an editor of the “Studies in Art Law” series (25 volumes published to date). He is the co-editor and co-author of Culture, Art and Law: Swiss and International Law (2009), the leading Swiss handbook written in German on the law of art and culture.

Dr. Alessandro Chechi

UNESCO Chair Senior Researcher
University of Geneva

Alessandro Chechi (PhD European University Institute; LLM University College London; JD University of Siena) is a Senior Researcher and Teaching Assistant (maitre-assistant) at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva (Art-Law Centre). He is also lecturer in Public International Law at the Université Catholique of Lille (Faculty of Law), reporter for the “International Law in Domestic Courts” Oxford University Press project, and serves as a member of the editorial boards of the “Italian Yearbook of International Law” and of the “Santander Art and Culture Law Review”. He is also member of the Société international pour la recherché sur le droit du patrimoine culturel et le droit de l’art (ISCHAL), and of the Art Law Section of the International Dispute Resolution Group.

Alessandro was consultant for the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) of the Council of Europe for the revision of the Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property (December 2014–June 2017).

Alessandro is the author of “The Settlement of International Cultural Heritage Disputes” (Oxford University Press, 2014) and of other several articles and book chapters. For a complete list see: Currently, his main research areas cover international law, cultural heritage law, dispute settlement, international organizations, migration law, human rights and the law of international immunities.

Teaching Faculty

Mariano J. Aznar Gómez

Chair of Public International Law at the University Jaume I of Castellón, Spain, since 2008, previously professor at the University of Valencia. Fellow of the Spanish National Scholarship Program of Research, he made his Doctoral Thesis on Verification of Disarmament Treaties (1994).

Dr. Aznar Gómez has been visiting professor in the University of the Balearic Islands (1995), University of Naples “Parthénope” (2004), the Université de Paris II – Panthéon Assas (2005) and in the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” (2007). He has also been visiting scholar (2000) and Visiting Fellow (2016) at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law of the University of Cambridge (2000).

Founder member of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) and member of its Board (2004-2012). Editor-in-Chief of the Spanish Yearbook of International Law (from 2013). Life Member of Clare Hall College (Cambridge). Consultant Scholar of the Penn Museum. Member of the International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH/ICOMOS).

Dr. Aznar main research focuses are international responsibility of states, disarmament, maintenance of international peace and security and protection of underwater cultural heritage. He has published four monographs and is also the author of numerous scientific articles. Co-author of the Green Book for the Protection of the Spanish Underwater Cultural Heritage (2010), he is a legal expert on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage, acting both for the Spanish Government and for UNESCO.

Advocate and counsel of the Kingdom of Spain before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Representative of Spain before the Meeting of States Parties of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, he has participated in the drafting of the Operational Guidelines of this Convention and the new Spanish Law on Maritime Navigation. Patron of the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

Federico Lenzerini

Prof. Dr. Federico Lenzerini is Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the Department of Political and International Sciences of the University of Siena (Italy). He is also Professor at the LL.M. programme in Intercultural Human Rights at the St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami (FL), USA, and Professor at the Tulane-Siena Summer School on International Law, Cultural Heritage and the Arts.

He has been Consultant to UNESCO (Paris) and Counsel to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in international negotiations concerning the protection of cultural heritage. He has been Member of the “Committee on Cultural Heritage Law” of the International Law Association (ILA), Rapporteur of the ILA “Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, and is currently Rapporteur of the ILA “Committee on the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. He has been visiting professor in several foreign universities, including the University of Texas in Austin, the Charles University of Prague, the St.Thomas University School of Law in Miami, the universities of Wellington and Waikato Te Piringa in New Zealand, the University of Tulane in New Orleans, the Romanian-American University in Bucharest, and the Central European University in Budapest.

His fields of research include cultural heritage law, human rights, rights of indigenous peoples, asylum and refugee law, and international trade law. He has published over one hundred academic works (including two monographs and five edited books) on these matters.

Yvonne Donders

Yvonne Donders is Professor of International Human Rights and Head of the Department of International and European Law at the University of Amsterdam. She holds a PhD from the Law Faculty of Maastricht University on cultural human rights and the right to cultural identity.

Her research and teaching focus on public international law; international human rights law, in particular economic, social and cultural rights, and human rights and cultural diversity. Prior to this post, Yvonne Donders worked as a Programme Specialist on human rights at the Secretariat of UNESCO in Paris.

Yvonne Donders is a regular consultant for UNESCO and for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She is currently Chair of the Steering Committee of the Netherlands Network of Human Rights Research (NNHRR), Member of the Advisory Board of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, Member of the Human Rights Committee of the Advisory Council on International Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AIV), Member of the Editorial Board and Executive Editor of the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights (NQHR), Member of the Board of the Royal Netherlands Society of International Law (KNVIR) and Chair of the Advisory Board of the “Shelter City” project for human rights defenders. Her publications can be found at:

Irina Bokova

Irina Bokova, born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria), has been two terms the Director-General of UNESCO from 2009 to 2917. She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to lead the Organization.

Having graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Irina Bokova was a Fellow at the University of Maryland, Washington, and followed an executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

She began her career at the United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria. She was elected twice Member of Parliament and served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government's first Secretary for European affairs.

Before being elected as Director General of UNESCO, from 2005 to 2009 Irina Bokova was Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO and Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova was actively engaged in the UN efforts to adopt Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, including quality education for all, gender equality, the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. She actively promotes culture as a driver for development, along with science and innovation.

Irina Bokova was on the Forbes List of the world's most influential women for 2016.

She has received state distinctions from more than 40 countries across the world and is Doctor honoris causa of leading universities.

In addition to her mother tongue, she speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian.

Kerstin von der Decken

Kerstin von der Decken (Prof. Dr. iur.) studied at the universities of Bonn and Trier in Germany as well as in Aix-en-Provence in France. She is professor of public international law and European Union law at the university of Kiel in Germany and Director of the Walther Schücking Institute for International Law, the oldest institute of international law in the world. Before, she was professor at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. She has been visiting professor at several universities in Europe (Paris I; Paris II; Oviedo; Graz; St. Gallen, Thessaloniki), in America (Georgetown (USA); Tucumán (Argentina)) and in the Arab world (Abu Dhabi). She is the author and editor of several publications in the field of cultural heritage law and acts as an advisor to governments and parliaments in matters of cultural heritage protection.

Pascal Bongard

Pascal Bongard has been working with Geneva Call, a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting respect by armed non-State actors for international humanitarian norms, since 2000. He has occupied various positions and is currently the Head of the Policy and Legal Unit. He has published widely on issues related to humanitarian engagement with armed non-State actors and Geneva Call’s experience in particular. Prior to joining Geneva Call, Pascal worked with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern and UNHCR in Ethiopia. He holds a Bachelor degree in History and Journalism from the University of Fribourg and Master degrees in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Joseph Powderly

Dr. Joseph Powderly joined the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies as an Assistant Professor of Public International Law in March 2011, and was appointed Associate Professor in September 2018. He is Director of the Grotius PhD Track Programme and lectures in international criminal law, international criminal litigation, and public international law at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His research focuses in particular on the judicial function in an international criminal law context, but also looks more broadly at issues relevant to international criminal justice, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and cultural heritage law. Joe received his PhD in international criminal law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI, Galway, in 2017.

In addition, he holds a B.A. (English and Legal Science, NUIG, 2004), an LL.B. (NUIG, 2005), and an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law (NUIG, 2006). Prior to joining the Grotius Centre he was a Research Fellow in International Criminal and Humanitarian Law at the TMC Asser Institute, The Hague (2010-2011). Between September 2008 and January 2010, he was a Doctoral Fellow/Researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, where he worked, among other projects, on a Irish Government-funded investigation and report into the possible perpetration of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya people of North Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar. He has published widely in the area of international criminal law, and international human rights law. He is the author of over 80 case-reports for the Oxford Reports on International Criminal Law. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Leiden Journal of International Law and Criminal Law Forum, as well as an editor of the blog, PhD Studies in Human Rights

Yaniv Benhamou

Marina Schneider

Stephen Urice

Romney Manassa, USA, International Cultural Heritage Law Summer School 2019

The program is a wonderful opportunity to broaden one’s horizons both academically and intellectually.

“My summer school at Geneva was among the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my seven years of secondary education. Not only were the courses and lectures engaging, but I had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world while exploring the hidden gem of Geneva. The program is a wonderful opportunity to broaden one’s horizons both academically and intellectually."

Rosa Villa, USA, International Cultural Heritage Law Summer School 2019

The visiting lecturers at the GSS are top-notch

The GSS in International Cultural Heritage Law gave me the opportunity to study the complex interplay between law, politics, and cultural heritage. The program broadened my understanding about international institutions, values, and beliefs and the importance of keeping an open mind when approaching global issues. I highly recommend this program to those interested in cultures, art law, or are interested in meeting policy makers involved in humanitarian organizations like UNESCO and UNIDROIT. The visiting lecturers at the GSS are top-notch, and show that it takes courageous minds to significantly shape policy in challenging times and spaces.

Felicitas Hartig, Austria, International Cultural Heritage Law Summer School 2018

DO IT! You are going to love it!

I attended this course in June 2018 and loved it thoroughly. My advice to everyone who is not convinced wether to apply or not: DO IT! You are going to love it! The classes are very interesting, that show different aspects of cultural heritage law.

The professors are fantastic and also the guest speakers are very good- I was excited and looking forward to all lectures. I am thankful for the knowledge and the most recent news and upcoming changes we received.

Geneva is a very beautiful and fun city you can enjoy with great classmates from all over the world that quickly became good friends. I wish I could travel back in time to experience this 2 weeks again."

Vanesa Menendez, The Netherlands, International Cultural Heritage Law Summer School 2018

I spent two of the most wonderful weeks of my academic career

The GSS was a great experience, not only because I was able to broaden my knowledge about International Cultural Heritage Law, but also because I could meet amazing people with my same interests.

Lawyers, archaeologists and professionals in the field of art met and share their experiences from different perspectives. Indeed, the programme was complete and detailed enough to embrace and deal with all these backgrounds. In an exciting environment and with the great organization of the University of Geneva and the various speakers, I spent two of the most wonderful weeks of my academic career.

I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate about the topic and is looking forward to building new connections with people worldwide.

Submitted by J.P. Anglin - Bonn Germany - | April 25, 2017

Unexpected experience with a wealth of information

The unexpectedness of finding this Program advertised on line, which would respond to issues of great interest to me was quite remarkable. Additionally, the content was rich to the extent that at times it seemed even beyond a summer Program. In sum an enormous amount of material was covered on a wide range of topics. Topping this, was the level of professors that lectured and the material and insights they gave. The organization of all this could not be faulted.

Finally, the atmosphere was very congenial, very international with a vibrancy that made it a fun learning experience. Switzerland is a beautiful country so the chance for coupling this with sight-seeing and doing doing tourist things is also there.

This was an experience that I would recommend. (GoAbroad Review)

Submitted by Paul - Paris France - | March 24, 2017

Life changing

This week, in 2017, I signed my contract working with UNESCO in cultural property protection. To sum it up: without the experience in Geneva with the GSS this would not have been possible at all. They offered a great deal of overview, going in-depth with topics that interested the participants and helped students before and way after the class - even years later - with their inquiries. Truly amazing, I am grateful. (GoAbroad Review)

Submitted by Georgie - Florence Italy Universita Degli Studi Di Firenze | March 26, 2017


I took part in the International Cultural

Heritage Law course at the Geneva Summer School in 2016 and confirm that the course was very efficiently run with great, thought provoking speakers and professors. As a student I felt well looked after at all times. Taking part in this course was a fantastic experience which I would happily recommended to all. (GoAbroad Review)

Submitted by Jawida - Jenin United Kingdom University of Kent | March 24, 2017

Fruitful experience

It was a unique experience to me in terms of materials before and within the course, the speakers, the helpful assistance of the team and the atmosphere in total was perfect. I advise my friends to attend whether this course or other courses which I met people and were happy from them. I wish to come back one day. (GoAbroad Review)

Marius Müller

International Cultural Heritage Law

Cultural heritage constitutes worldwide a source of remembrance, understanding, identity, dialogue and cohesion. Consequently, its protection is a a common responsibility, liberated from “national” perspectives. As a law student who studied art history for the bachelor degree, I was promptly fascinated by the contents of the GSS International Cultural Hertiage Law. My application was definitely the right decision:

My time at the University of Geneva not only provided me with a broad knowledge but also an even greater enthusiasm for the objectives of legal heritage protection. Highly regarded and very motivated experts with international background and from the different branches of International Heritage Law made the two weeks a unique academic experience.

The city of Geneva, furthermore, is a unique cultural destination. Post tenebras lux - still is the motto of the Canton of Geneva and invites to consider its past and historic impacts. Don’t forget to visit the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana close to the city center.

But thats not everything! During the weeks of my Summer School I got to know numerous and most interesting people from all over the world who share the interest for our (world) heritage. Sharing Heritage furthermore is the slogan of the upcoming European Cultural Heritage Year 2018. On this occasion and together with the new friends I met at the University of Geneva we established the European Students’ Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) as a cross-border initiative. Supported by Europa Nostra and the German National Committee for Monument Preservation we will contribute to this special year from our universities to strengthen the awareness of young people regarding the protection of the cultural heritage.

In short: don’t miss this opportunity of a great academic experience with the extraordinary team of the Art-Law Centre and of the UNESCO Chair in the International Law of the Protection of Cultural Heritage in this culturally most interesting part of Europe! (Marius Müller, University of Passau)

Paul Fabel

International Cultural Hertiage Law

Have you ever dreamed about getting to know like-minded people, interested and highly motivated in the same area of expertise? Are you looking for direct contact to internationally well-known experts, both professors and professionals from the field? Do you like studying hard but also enjoy two weeks of a lovely Swiss summer while at the same time getting to know a multi-cultural, international environment? Then Geneva is the place to be and the Summer Schools the programme you want to be part of!

My name is Paul, I am a Mercator Fellow on Cultural Heritage Protection and attended the Cultural Heritage Law class in 2014. A remarkable experience that made write my Master's thesis in this field, work with UNESCO in Paris and later UNIDROIT in Rome. I can definitely say “the Summer School has changed my life”! I enjoy participating at the Art Law Center’s regular events and conferences and am happy to be part of the GSS family today. Are you ready for an extraordinary experience? Well then, here you go... (Paul Fabel, Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs, Germany).