In 2016, in response to recent attacks on cultural heritage sites in Syria, Iraq, and Timbuktu, the J. Paul Getty Trust convened a meeting at the British Academy in London to discuss the need for an international framework to protect cultural heritage in zones of armed conflict. To further explore these questions, the Trust subsequently launched the J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy.

In this second issue, Edward C. Luck, the Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Specialization in International Conflict Resolution in Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), explores the importance of terminology, framing, and context when developing an international policy for protecting cultural heritage. Luck outlines the five conceptual frameworks most commonly used when defining this type of policy—legal, accountability, security, counterterrorism, and atrocity prevention. He then introduces cultural genocide as an additional lens through which to examine the destruction of cultural heritage. Raising difficult questions about whether cultural destruction and the loss of human life can be addressed together, Luck traces the history of this term and the possibilities, and potential pitfalls, in its application to policy debates. “Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage” challenges readers to consider the substantial political impact that terminology and framing can have when discussing cultural heritage protection.

Citation Information


Luck, Edward C. “Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage.” J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy, no. 2 (2018). https://www.getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers-2/.


Luck, Edward C. “Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage.” J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy, no. 2, 2018, www.getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers-2/. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.

Permanent URL


Revision History

Any revisions or corrections made to this publication after the first edition date will be listed here and in the project repository at github.com/thegetty/occasional-papers-2/, where a more detailed version history is available. The revisions branch of the project repository, when present, will also show any changes currently under consideration but not yet published here.

September 21, 2018

  • First PDF edition

September 8, 2020

  • Migration to digital platform
  • Release of new e-book edition

Other Formats

This publication was created using Quire™, a multiformat publishing tool from Getty.

This publication has been funded by the President’s International Council, J. Paul Getty Trust.

© 2018, 2020 J. Paul Getty Trust


This text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. The cover image is reproduced with the permission of the rights holder acknowledged in the caption and is expressly excluded from the CC BY-NC license covering the rest of this publication. The image may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted, or manipulated without consent from the owner, who reserves all rights.

Published by Getty Publications, Los Angeles
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500
Los Angeles, California 90049-1682

ISBN 978-1-60606-673-7 (online)
ISBN 978-1-60606-674-4 (e-book)

Also in the series:

“Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities: Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict Zones”
Thomas G. Weiss and Nina Connelly

“Conflict and Cultural Heritage: A Moral Analysis of the Challenges of Heritage Protection”
Helen Frowe and Derek Matravers

“Cultural Heritage under Siege: Laying the Foundation for a Legal and Political Framework to Protect Cultural Heritage at Risk in Zones of Armed Conflict”
Edited by James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

Cover: Palmyra’s Destroyed Heritage: The Historic and Modern Parts of Palmyra, Syria, April 21, 2016. © Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik via AP