The legal framework for reconstructing urban cultural heritage after a conflict is defined by international and national law. International law in this context primarily concerns the commitments and obligations of state parties as signatories to international conventions and declarations. In connection with the reconstruction of historic cities, such obligations chiefly relate to housing, land and other property rights of refugees and internally displaced persons. International conventions to protect cultural heritage also exist. Effective means of enforcing compliance are seldom available, however, especially in the absence of either a political resolution of the conflict or the political will to accept these responsibilities.
National law generally provides a more readily enforceable legal framework, in particular if the rule of law has been re-established after the end of a conflict. In the early days, however, many countries lack the necessary political stability, and a return to peace and the rule of law often remains a distant prospect.