Keywords: World Cultural Heritage; Merit Goods; Local or Global Public Goods; UNESCO; JEL H41; Z10.
The intentional and barbaric destruction of Syrian cultural heritage urges us to reflect on how some of the concepts coined and spread by UNESCO are actually perceived worldwide. The article focuses on the economic meaning of «world cultural heritage», in order to highlight some of its most important contradictions. To do this, we must shortly define the birth and evolution of the «cultural heritage» notion, as well as stress the presence of discord in the not-always-possible harmony between the local and global sides of the aforementioned heritage, even in non-economic literature. Economic literature tends to dwell on the explanation of public intervention in the preservation of cultural heritage. Two different traits mark this preservation as local or global: community good and world public good. This work points out how considering public heritage as a global common good is controversial from a theoretical point of view, while identifying ideological and political discord might lead to more effective strategies in the worldwide preservation of cultural heritage.