In response to our discussion of the Lieber Code and looting-as-collecting as a political or militaristic statement of collective identity, here’s an essay from Chicago-Kent College of Law on legal and ethical issues of cultural heritage. Remember, while the Lieber Code asked American Civil War military personnel to be as careful as possible around sites of cultural importance, anything “moveable” was fair game:
“The Lieber Code stated that if such works could be moved without injury to them, they may be seized for the benefit of a conquering nation and their ownership would be settled during negotiations for peace.”
However, the code was instrumental in beginning to qualify issues of cultural heritage in times of conflict:
“The Lieber Code set the stage for the creation of the first international regulations to protect cultural heritage: the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions. With these conventions, signatory parties committed themselves to preserve cultural property and to abandon prior wartime norms of the “victor’s right to plunder.”
Full text here.