RUB Research School

Associate Doctoral Candidate Laura Hofmann

Law/Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV)

The Protection of Cultural Heritage in International Human Rights Law: Meaning, Rights and Obligations (Working Title)

My PhD thesis seeks to understand and appraise if and how human rights lawcan offer a legal basis for the protection of cultural heritage. The recognition that destruction and loss of cultural heritage entails detrimental repercussions for individuals and groups has not only become evident in the work of human rights bodies, but similarly in the jurisprudence of inter alia the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and, more recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the landmark case of The Prosecutor v. Al Mahdi, the ICC
pronounced the population of Timbuktu ‘the direct victims’ of the destruction of the city’s cultural heritage. As human rights law concerns the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals and groups as well as the states’ obligations to guarantee these rights, considering the protection of cultural heritage in human rights law necessitates a shift in thinking. It requires focusing on the rights of individuals and groups that directly relate to tangible and intangible cultural heritage. My thesis examines to what extent rights, such as access to cultural heritage, and state obligations, serving the protection of (aspects of) cultural heritage, are emerging in human rights law. Amid the absence of an explicit
human right to cultural heritage, my research focuses on the interpretation of human rights treaty law by human rights bodies. In the course of the analysis, my research inter alia explores the legal signifi cance of the pronouncements of human rights bodies as well as their role and contribution to the development of human rights law.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Pierre Thielbörger

About Laura Hofmann

  • Cultural heritage law
  • International humanitarian law
  • International human rights law, specifi cally
  • Human rights bodies
  • Cultural rights
  • Minority rights
  • Climate change and protection of the environment
04/2019-07/2019 PR.INT funding of the RUB Research School PLUS for a research visit at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law (University of Cambridge)
2016 PR.INT funding of the RUB Research School PLUS for the organisation of the
workshop “Early Career Component for the IFHV Conference – Commemorating the
World Humanitarian Summit” (with Katharina Behmer, Charlotte Lülf and Robin Ramsahye)


03/2015 – 07/2020 Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV), Ruhr University Bochum Research associate working in different capacities, including as managing editor of the IFHV’s Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Confl ict (JILPAC) Humanitäres Völkerrecht (HuV), as assistant editor on a special issue of Die Friedens-Warte | Journal of International Peace and Organization, and as programme coordinator of the NOHA Master’s Programme in International Humanitarian Action.
08/2014 – 01/2015 British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), Publications intern
03/2012 – 07/2012 Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV), Ruhr University Bochum, Research intern
  • “Climate change and human rights: a next big step for the Human Rights Committee?”, Völkerrechtsblog, 22 September 2020.
  • “All eyes on the Court. On the ICJ hearings on provisional measures in The Gambia v. Myanmar”, Völkerrechtsblog, 23 December 2019.
  • “Katharine Fortin, The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2018”, Humanitä res Völkerrecht 1 (3–4) (2018), pp. 289–290.
  • “Lee McConnell / Rhona Smith (eds.), Research Methods in Human Rights, Routledge, Abingdon (Oxon) / New York 2018”, Humanitä res Völkerrecht 1 (3–4) (2018), pp. 291–292.
  • “Recent Developments in the Protection of Cultural Heritage: Al Mahdi before the ICC”, Humanitäres Völkerrecht – Informationsschriften 30 (3–4) (2017), pp. 107–113.
  • “International Law Applicable to Urban Confl ict and Disaster” (with Ronan McDermott / Charlotte Lülf / Pat Gibbons), Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal 26 (4) (2017), pp. 553–564.
  • “Al Mahdi before the International Criminal Court (ICC): Reparations Order”, Bofax No. 497E, 26 August 2017.
  • “Strengthening the Principle of Distinction? A Critical Appraisal of the ICRC’s Continuous Combat Function”, Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies 6 (2) (2015), pp. 377–413.
  • “The Prosecutor v Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi: The First Case to Be Brought Before the ICC Concerning Alleged War Crimes Regarding the Destruction of Historical and Religious Monuments”, Bofax No. 477E, 29 September 2015.

08/2020 – present

Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Confl ict (JILPAC) | Humanitäres Völkerrecht (HuV), Member of the Advisory Board