Photo: Stephen Downes
The most exciting development of the last several months is the implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property by the UK government and military. The UK established a Cultural Property Protection Unit and put out a call to civil society (experts from the museum, archivist, restoration, and archeological communities) and the military to apply to the new positions. The new unit will fulfill Great Britain’s obligations, under article 7 of the treaty, to establish cultural property specialists to protect cultural property in peril during armed conflict.
The US Committee of the Blue Shield held its annual meeting in Washington, DC, in September at the Smithsonian Institution. Speakers from the military, civil society, and government spoke and described their collective efforts to identify cultural property in conflict zones and protect or restore them. The US Department of Defense announced at the meeting that it was establishing a coordinator for cultural property protection efforts within the military, as required by recent legislation.
The US Committee (like other state’s organizations) provides an opportunity for US constituents in the various cultural property protection disciplines to assist the government in complying with its obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention.
The Second Protocol Committee designated several sites for additional protection under the Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention. The Committee considered the inscription of the Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley (Armenia), Tugendhat Villa in Brno (Czech Republic), Villa Adriana (Italy) and the National Central Library of Florence (Italy) on the International List of Cultural Property under Enhanced Protection; the first three cultural properties are sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, and the National Central Library of Florence is situated within the boundaries of a World Heritage site. This protection, under provisions of the Second Protocol, provides Enhanced Protection for these sites when threatened by armed conflict and the Committee has funds available to assist in this protection or, if necessary, restoration.
The actions of the Committee are essential to recognize special sites (like those listed on the World Heritage list) that are particularly vulnerable to destruction or damage during armed conflict.