Blue Shield UK was pleased to support a two-day training course on Implementing the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA). The course was organised by In collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Office–Beirut, and led by Blue Shield International.
The sessions involved lectures, group exercises, Question and Answer sessions, and discussions, enabling participants to increase their knowledge and understanding of International Humanitarian Law on cultural property protection, as well UN Conventions and other UNESCO legal instruments such as the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the 1972 World Heritage Convention, UN Security Council Resolutions and how these impact on LAF’s mandate and operating procedures. Participants were encouraged not only to consider legal issues relating to CPP and efforts to prevent illicit trafficking, but also how threats and damage to both tangible and intangible CP are intrinsically linked to the protection of people and impact on their wellbeing.
A number of sessions focused specifically on CPP in Lebanon and the importance of cooperation between LAF and the relevant Lebanese heritage institutions such as the Directorate General of Antiquities in times of conflict or natural and man-made disaster. It was a pleasure to enable and deepen collaboration and cooperation between LAF and the DGA throughout the Workshop.
At the end of the training, those who took part were presented with certificates.
Read more about Blue Shield work with the Lebanese Armed Forces
Read more about Blue Shield International’s work supporting DGA, UNIFIL and others in Lebanon following the Beirut Blast on 4 August 2020
Read more about the 1954 Hague Convention in our Law Library
Visit the website of UNESCO Regional Office – Beirut
Respect and Protect: Fulfilling The Obligation To Safeguard Cultural Property In The Military Context
Talks are now available online from this one day Society of Antiquaries / Historic England conference, organised with support from the UK Blue Shield Committee and Newcastle University.
about the event
Awareness of the harm that armed conflict does to the world’s cultural heritage has probably never been higher. Events in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Syria are fresh – raw, even – in the communal consciousness. The issues, though pressing, are not necessarily simple, and 2019 sees a range of events, exhibitions and conferences on the general themes, in Britain and abroad. Both nationally and internationally there is a sense of being at a critical point in understanding what is at risk, and in formulating a practical response.
On the military side, the framework for that practical response is the Law of Armed Combat and the Hague Convention of 1954. With the long-awaited ratification of the Convention in 2017 the UK became obliged to create a military capability to identify and safeguard cultural property in areas of armed conflict. But both in the British armed forces and in NATO measures were already well under way to deliver this capability and ensure that the Convention’s requirement to ‘respect and protect’ cultural property in conflict zones is written into operational decision-making processes.
Aimed at the archaeological, wider academic and interested lay communities, this day conference was a chance to hear from those directly involved in this field and discuss the issues and challenges faced. Speakers included Prof Peter Stone OBE FSA, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University and Chair of UK Blue Shield; Lt-Col Tim Purbrick OBE FSA, the newly appointed commander of the British Army’s Cultural Property Protection Unit; Dr Paul Fox FSA, member of the UK Blue Shield Committee; and other experts and scholars.
UKBS was privileged to support the UK Reserves Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU) in running the UK’s first CPP Special to Arm course at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding at Southwick Park.
The course trained the students to deliver CPP as part of higher-level military planning processes. It also covered the law, the history of the UK’s Second World War antecedent units and introduced specialist areas including illicit cultural property trafficking, war crimes, resilience, Defence Engagement, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, use of drones for assessment, first aid for damaged cultural property and philosophical issues.
The UK Reserves CPPU officers were joined by officers from Austria, Australia, France, Italy, Netherlands, US, UNESCO, Interpol, Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Metropolitan Police, NATO, DfID, DCMS and 1 MP Brigade.
Dr Paul Fox from the UK Blue Shield designed and directed the delivery of the course, supported by other members of UK Blue Shield. Professor Peter Stone, Dr Emma Cunliffe, and Valentina Sabucco played locals with information, in varying forms of distress, to highlight the critical reality that cultural heritage protection is all about people. Prof Lisa Mol from UCL provided advice on damage caused to stones by munitions, and demonstrated the support that civilian subject matter experts can provide to CPP officers, and the importance of close collaboration. Prof Nigel Pollard from Swansea University, also a member of UK Blue Shield, delivered a presentation on the history of the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Branch and the Art Looting Investigation Unit during the Second World War.
The students conducted reconnaissance trips to the National Trust’s Hinton Ampner House and English Heritage’s Fort Brockhurst and to the Royal Garrison Church in Portsmouth, to learn about evacuation of cultural property, cultural property refuges, and damage assessment of CP in conflict.
UK Blue Shield would like to thank the British Army, and in particular Lt. Col. Tim Purbrick, for the chance to participate in this highly valuable exercise. His exceptional dedication and hard work have made the creation of a CPP Unit in the UK possible. UK Blue Shield is committed in continuing working in close partnership with the Unit to deliver further training and provide support. Over the next month CPPU officers will be working with NATO, the Carabinieri, Historic Royal Palaces and the Defence Academy, and – together with Blue Shield International – with the Irish Defence Forces.
In April 2018, UK Blue Shield released its second Position Paper on the Implementation Guidance for the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and both Protocols (HC54), created by the UK Government. The second paper specifically focuses on the new s.17 offence created in the legislation – Dealing in unlawfully exported cultural property.
In December 2017, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its First and Second Protocols (1954/1999) (hereafter the “Convention”, “First Protocol”, and “Second Protocol” respectively”) entered into force in the UK, together with the Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Act 2017 (“CPAC Act”). The CPAC Act includes a criminal offence pursuant to Article 15 of the First Protocol which creates the offence of Dealing in Unlawfully Exported Cultural Property. (“s.17 Offence”). In November 2017 the Department of Culture Media and Sport released Guidance for art dealers and those in the art market in respect of the CPAC Act, and specific guidance in respect of the s.17 Offence (“s.17 Guidance”).
UK Blue Shield welcomes the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols as an important step in the UK’s fight to protect cultural heritage during armed conflict. We also welcome the UK’s implementation of a right to seize unlawfully exported cultural property, as set out in s.19 of the CPAC Act, which we hope may contribute to the repatriation of cultural property to territories that have suffered the loss of their cultural heritage as a result of conflict.
However, as the s.17 Guidance is addressed largely to those in the art market, which typically includes collectors, art dealers, auction houses and shipping agents, the majority of whom do not have a legal background, we are concerned that the s.17 Guidance lacks necessary detail and clarity in some fundamental areas which are vital to the spirit of the Convention and its Protocols.
As a conviction under s.17 of the CPAC Act may attract a custodial sentence of up to 7 years, we urge the UK Government to address the concerns set out herein to provide greater clarity to those involved in the art market as to their obligations and to highlight how these obligations have changed as a result of the introduction of the s.17 Offence.
We hope that the s.17 Offence acts as a deterrent and encourages all those involved in the art market to exercise due diligence when dealing in cultural property, thus ensuring that the UK fulfils its obligations under the Convention to respect cultural heritage and to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property unlawfully exported during conflict.
Read our first position paper – Implementation Guidance for the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and both Protocols (HC54): Position Paper.
Following the recent ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention, and both Protocols, the UK Government released Implementation Guidance for the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and both Protocols (HC54).
In February 2018, UK Blue Shield released its first Position Paper on these Guidelines, suggesting a number of areas for improvement.
UK Blue Shield welcomes the ratification of this important convention, which will provide internationally mandated standards to aid our armed forces safeguard cultural property on operations and to protect cultural property in the face of future threats to the UK.
However, we express our concern that the implementation of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act may fall short of its intended purpose, placing UK cultural property at risk. This outcome would be unfortunate, given the UK’s role scrutinising armed conflicts as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, potentially compromising the UK’s ability to lead by both action and example in this field.
HC54 is the only international treaty specifically to deal with the protection of cultural property in armed conflict. It is the only convention to set out for the defence, security, and heritage sectors the steps to be taken in peacetime, as well as during armed conflict, in order that all three sectors may take the necessary precautions, in accordance with the Laws of Armed Conflict, to protect cultural property. We urge the UK Government to seize the opportunity offered by ratification and address the concerns posed here in order to work towards the comprehensive, pragmatic implementation of this legislation.
On 12 September 2017, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland deposited with the Director-General of UNESCO its instruments of ratification of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and of accession to its First and Second Protocols (accompanied by a Declaration on the UNESCO website). In December 2017, the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act entered into force in the UK, and both are now part of the domestic legislation of the United Kingdom.
Professor Peter Stone, Chair of UK Blue Shield said:
This is absolutely wonderful news and to be honest it hasn’t completely sunk in yet,” said Professor Stone. “We’ve been working towards this since 2003 and for the UK to have finally ratified the Convention and both its Protocols is long overdue. I thank the UK National Commission for UNESCO for its early support for this to happen and all of those in both Houses of Parliament who have pushed for this over the last few years and who have guided the necessary internal legislation through so efficiently.
Ratification is accompanied by Implementation measures, which were released in a statement by John Glen, The Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism.
At 11.06am on Thursday 23 February the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act received Royal Assent. The UK is now set to become the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and BOTH it’s Protocols, a move we hope other countries will follow.
This reflects years of hard work by UK Blue Shield.
The process for formal ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention and accession to the Protocols:
(Text taken from a lovely summary by the Heritage Alliance)
The UK National Committee of the Blue Shield is very pleased to welcome the announcement made in the Queen’s Speech on 18th May 2016 that HM Government intends to table legislation which will result in the UK being able to accede to the 1954 Hague Convention of the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999. The 1954 Hague Convention is the primary piece of International Humanitarian Law concerning the protection of cultural property during armed conflict. It was first adopted by countries following the massive destruction of cultural property during the Second World War and, since then, has provided a framework for the protection of cultural property from the effects of international and domestic armed conflict. Parties to the 1954 Hague Convention are required to respect cultural property situated within the territory of other Parties by not attacking it, and to respect cultural property within their own territory by not using it for purposes which will expose it to damage or ruin during armed conflict.
The Chair of the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield, Professor Peter Stone OBE, said of the announcement:
This is really excellent news – something we have been waiting for since 2003. By committing to ratify with a clear timetable the UK is finally on the verge of joining the international community in recognising the value and importance of cultural property to local, national, and international communities and their identities.
In echoing Professor Stone’s words, Karl Habsburg, the President of Blue Shield International, added that it was “A great day for the international community concerned with the protection of cultural property during conflict and as the result of natural disaster.
In 2003, when Coalition forces invaded Iraq, neither the USA nor the UK had ratified the 1954 Hague Convention or its Protocols of 1954 or 1999. Subsequently, in 2009, the USA ratified the Convention, but not the Protocols. The UK is now arguably the most significant military power (and the only one with extensive military involvements abroad) not to have ratified the Convention. The MoD currently works “within the spirit of the Convention”. Despite constant public commitments to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and both its Protocols, since 2003 successive UK governments have hitherto failed to find Parliamentary time to pass the necessary internal legislation to allow ratification. On hearing of the announcement, Baroness Andrews OBE, who led the January debate in the House of Lords on ratification, stated:
I’m really delighted that the Government has finally committed to the ratification of The Hague Convention and its Protocols.” It’s been far too long in the coming and there was a lot of frustration in the recent House of Lords debate that we were almost alone in our failure to ratify.
I look forward to working closely with the UK Armed Forces and others to ensure that whenever and wherever the UK deploys its personnel overseas that they are fully prepared to ensure cultural property can be protected
commented Professor Stone.
The tabled Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech provides not only for the ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999; amongst other measures, it will finally criminalise the dealing of cultural property illegally exported from an occupied territory, and ensure that any and all cultural property protected under the Convention is identifiable by the distinctive Blue Shield emblem. It follows another announcement made in 2015 in which the UK Government established a Cultural Property Protection Fund.
Positive Response to UK Blue Shield Proposals in a Letter from Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy
(A copy of the original letter can be downloaded here.)
Dear Professor Robson,
Thank you for letter of 24 November 2015 to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, The Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP. I am responding as the Minister responsible for this policy area and I apologise for the delay in replying.
We are delighted to receive you and your colleagues’ support for our plans to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and its two protocols, and for the Cultural Protection Fund.
The Department is firmly committed to introducing new legislation to enable the UK to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols at the earliest opportunity. We believe that doing so will ensure the UK and its cultural experts and practitioners in the field are seen to be not only serious about cultural protection, but world leaders in this area.
On 25 November 2015, as part of the Spending Review, we were delighted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £30million in Official Development Assistance funding for the establishment of our Cultural Protection Fund. Planning is currently underway towards implementing the Fund with the expectation of accepting grant applications in the spring.
We have sent out our consultation document to you and your co-signatories, and would warmly welcome your views on the Cultural Protection Fund. Your expertise would help inform its further development. In addition, we are holding a stakeholder workshop on 11 February which I believe a number of your co-signatories are attending.
I have taken Peter Stone’s points and your support of them into serious consideration – and it is precisely such strategic thinking and expertise which we are seeking with our consultation. I agree entirely with the principles behind the points on combatting duplication of effort; on the need for training; proactive prevention; emergency response; and long term support. These points cohere with the principles of the Fund as outlined in our consultation document, and correspond with the outcomes I announced at the Cultural Protection Summit of 28 October 2015, namely: cultural heritage protection, training, and advocacy and education. Indeed, the British Museum’s Iraqi Rescue Archaeology Programme, a pilot programme of the Fund, is already adhering to these aims, and we will be encouraging grant applications from other programmes and organisations who can provide services pursuant to these outcomes.
We will be providing further information about the Cultural Protection Fund and on the Government’s approach to ratifying the Hague Convention in the spring of this year.
Thank you again for your support and your offer of assistance in this area. I do very much hope that you will respond to our consultation document and am delighted that some of the signatories have made to time to come along to our workshops.
Ed Vaizey MP
Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy
An open letter to the Rt Hon. John Whittingdale MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Dear Mr Whittingdale,
Ref: Ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention and the UK Cultural Property Fund (download here)
As representatives of some of the UK’s leading cultural heritage organisations we, the undersigned, were delighted when last June the Government publicly announced its decision to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its associated protocols. This legislation will give enormous support to the Armed Forces’ ambitions to support local communities in the areas in which it is militarily engaged.
We are also hugely supportive of the Government’s intention to create a Cultural Property Fund, as announced in the same press release. In particular we endorse the proposal that has already been put to you by Peter Stone, UNESCO Professor of Culture Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University, Chair of the UK Committee of the Blue Shield and cultural property advisor to the UK Government during the Iraq War of 2003. He recommends that the Fund be concentrated on five areas of activity, namely:
We thank you again for all your efforts to make the UK a leader in international Cultural Property Protection and look forward to concrete news soon of the parliamentary schedule for ratification, and of the budget and remit of the Cultural Property Fund. We would be happy to be of assistance in any way we can.
Professor Eleanor Robson
Chair of Council
British Institute for the Study of Iraq
Dr Mike Heyworth, MBE
Council for British Archaeology
Mr Peter Hinton
Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Ms Sharon Heal
Ms Kate Pugh, OBE
The Heritage Alliance
The Art Loss Register
Dr Neil Brodie
Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research
University of Glasgow
Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe
Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology
University of Oxford
Mr Philip Deans
Doctoral Research Student
School of Arts and Cultures
Dr Paul Fox
University of York
Dr Nigel Pollard
Associate Professor of Ancient History
Mr Robert Bevan
Architecture Critic of The Evening Standard
Dr Bijan Rouhani
ICOMOS Working Group on Syria and Iraq
Mr Peter A. Clayton
Member of the Treasure Valuation Committee
The British Museum
Dr Robert Bewley
Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa Project
University of Oxford
Professor Graham Philip
Department of Archaeology
The UK Blue Shield is renewing its campaign to get the UK Government to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Professor Peter Stone OBE, Chair of the UK Blue Shield, said:
While many in the UK have reacted with indignation at the appalling destruction of ancient sites, libraries, archives, and museums in the Middle East and Africa, few seem to realise that the UK remains the only Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council not to have ratified the 1954 Hague Convention.
Ratification has cross-Party support, including support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Department for Overseas Development; and the Ministry of Defence.
The UK Blue Shield needs everybody who values cultural heritage to write to their MP about this urgent matter. A draft template and a factsheet can be downloaded here and here and if anyone doesn’t know the name or contact details of their MP, that information can be obtained here.
If you are unsure of the need for Britain to ratify the 1954 Hague Convection, the Committee members request that you please watch this short three-minute film Protecting cultural property during war.
Supporters can stay up-to-date with the UK Blue Shield and its campaign by following it on Twitter and Facebook. For further information, please use our Contact Us form. Finally, to help the Committee members keep track of the campaign, it is also asked that when anyone does write to their MP, would they please let Philip know using the email address supplied above.
The UK National Committee of the Blue Shield (UKBS) welcomes an announcement today by John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, that the British Government plans to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Professor Peter Stone, Chair of the UKBS, said:
This is excellent news for which we have been waiting and campaigning for the last decade and more. However, I note with some trepidation that as yet there is still no clear timeframe for ratification and that, in the information we have so far, there is no mention of the two Protocols to the Convention. I shall be writing to the Secretary of State to clarify these two issues, while congratulating him on this announcement.
The 1954 Hague Convention is the primary piece of International Humanitarian Legislation concerning the protection of cultural property during armed conflict. It was first adopted by countries following the wholesale destruction of tangible culture which took place during the Second World War and, since then, has provided a framework for those countries to protect cultural property from the effects of international and domestic armed conflict. Parties to the Convention are required to respect cultural property situated within the territory of other Parties by not attacking it, and to respect cultural property within their own territory by not using it for purposes which are likely to expose it to destruction or damage during armed conflict.
Professor Eleanor Robson, Chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq and Board Member of the UKBS, added:
ISIS’ current rampage across northern Iraq and Syria has drawn urgent international attention to the plight of cultural heritage in times of war. By ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention, the UK Government will send a clear signal of its commitment to protecting civilian communities and their histories if it should ever intervene in this conflict or others, and provide the armed forces a clear mandate to do so.
In addition to announcing the British Government’s intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convection, the Secretary of State, John Whittingdale, also announced that the Government planned to develop a new cultural protection fund to support the protection of cultural property and their recovery from acts of cultural destruction, and planned to bring together in the summer a summit of senior Government colleagues and cultural leaders to advise on the proposed new legislation and shape the delivery of a new Cultural Protection Fund.