Cultural symbols of dominant communities may be glorified, and the content of education and information about cultural heritage may be distorted for political purposes. Depending on their own histories, communities may have diverging interpretations of a specific cultural heritage, which are not always taken into consideration in implementing preservation/safeguard programmes. Particular aspects of the past may be emphasized or removed, in line with political processes and the will to shape public opinion, to unite or separate peoples and communities. Limited access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage may also be used as tools to exert political or social pressure.
Different individuals, communities and/or the State may claim ownership of interest in and rights to certain cultural heritage. In particular, many communities argue that their cultural heritage is merely used for commercial purposes, in tourism, by cultural industries or the mass media, or as part of showcasing national culture, without proper authorization or shared benefits.
The destruction of cultural heritage in the context of war or conflict also has important human rights implications. The right of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage of others in a non-stereotypical way in post-conflict situations is of utmost importance. The independent expert notes in this regard that, today, cultural peace-making traditions are often endangered. Peace-building processes should include the repair of cultural heritage with the participation of all concerned, and the promotion of intercultural dialogue regarding cultural heritage.