The "Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society" (Faro Convention), which was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2005 but to which Germany has not yet signed up, considers participation in cultural heritage to be a civil right. Karima Bennoune, the lawyer appointed by the United Nations as a Special Rapporteur for cultural rights, goes even further in her reports: where cultural heritage is attacked and destroyed, human beings and fundamental human rights are also under attack. The International Court of Justice in The Hague recently passed the first sentences on perpetrators who destroyed cultural assets for ideological reasons in armed conflicts. In his encyclical letter entitled Laudato Si’, Pope Francis emphasises the protection of culture and cultural heritage and considers it to be a valuable asset compared to economic desires: "The disappearance of a culture can be just as serious as the disappearance of an animal or plant species, or even more serious," he writes. During our conference, we want to discuss what effects a global understanding of cultural assets as part of civil and human rights or as part of creation would have for archaeology and heritage protection in Europe.
In recent years, greater importance has been attached to cultural heritage, and this could significantly change the social and also the legal significance of archaeology and heritage protection yet again if it gains broad acceptance. We want to analyse and debate this as part of our annual conference so as to be prepared in good time for the changes and challenges we will face.
In the first European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 under the special motto "Sharing Heritage", the annual conference of the DGUF wants to make us more aware that there is no broad consensus or complete agreement here, more a need for a struggle about the setting of priorities and legal framework conditions for the protection of cultural assets, and that the idea that everyone has a share in cultural heritage is just as understandable as it is fraught with conflict. A broader reflection, heightened awareness of the problem, a more precise formulation of important questions and initial practical approaches would represent a valuable outcome of this conference.
From the DGUF point of view, "Sharing Heritage" should not just mean the optimum protection of the past, but also that archaeology looks towards a benefit for present and future generations.