In Montenegro, the system of protection recognizes two basic types of cultural heritage: tangible heritage and intangible cultural heritage which can be public or private. The tangible cultural heritage can be movable or immovable. The State and owners have the obligation to respect, to protect and to correctly make use of the cultural heritage. The complete mechanism of protection and use of cultural heritage works through the Directorate for Cultural Heritage Protection unit of the Ministry of culture. Anyone can submit initiatives for the establishment of protection of cultural heritage. In that case, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage Protection must respond on that submit in a maximum of 90 days. First , if a specific site has the adecuate characteristics to be considered cultural heritage, its protection will be of max one year. In that period, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage Protection must determinate its cultural value.Then, if the specific site satisfies the criteria, it becomes cultural heritage. The Directorate has the obligation to regularly monitor its state and at least once every five years, it works on the cultural value’s revalorization of the cultural heritage.
There are three level of cultural heritage:
- national and;
The State and the public institutions responsible for the cultural heritage’s protection have to cooperate with owners and to help them in their maintenance. Also, they must cooperate with NGO's.
The Ministry of Culture has the overall responsibility for cultural heritage’s protection. This ministry undertakes tasks related to the drafting of legislation linked to the cultural heritage.
The Directorate for Cultural Heritage Protection is the main institution which takes care of the cultural heritage and implements the Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage .
Inthe similar position, there is the Centre for Conservation and Archaeology of Montenegro which is the main state institute in the fields of conservation and archaeologic works linked to the cultural heritage (active protection and researches).
The National Museum of Montenegro is the main institute responsible for keeping movable cultural heritage. Every municipality (23 in Montenegro) has local museums, which are often part of local Centres for Culture. Also, in Budva, there is the Archaeological Museum (part of local institution) and, in Kotor, the Maritime Museum.
Other institutions linked to the protection of cultural heritage are:
- TheCentral National Library "Đurđe Crnojević",
- The State Archives of Montenegro and
- The Montenegrin Cinematheque.
The main laws and regulations on the cultural heritage’s protectionare :
- The Law on Archives Activity,
- The Law on Library Activity,
- The Law on Amendments of Law on Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage,
- The Law on Culture,
- The Law on Museums Activity,
- The Law on Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage,
- The Law on ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,
- The Law on Memorials and,
- The Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage.
The main legal references can be found on:
List of ratified international conventions for Montenegro :
- Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (Granada, 1985) come into force 06 June 2006
- The European Cultural Convention (Paris, 1954) come into force 06 June 2006
- Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro, 2005) ratified March 2008
- Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Paris, 1972) adopted after 20 April 2007
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Paris, 1970) adopted after 20 April 2007
- UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, 2001) adopted 1 July 2008