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.