Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield (CPB 05)

1.0 The Blue Shield is the international (currently voluntary) organisation created in 1996 in anticipation of the Second Protocol of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. It is the advisory body to UNESCO regarding the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict and was (re)established formally under Dutch Law as an international non-governmental organisation in April 2016. Blue Shield works across nominated aspects of heritage, including: monuments of architecture, art or history; archaeological sites; works of art; manuscripts, books and objects of artistic, historical and archaeological interest; historic buildings and environments; scientific collections; and museums, libraries and archives.

1.2 Through a network of 25 national committees Blue Shield: liaises with, and provides information and training to, military institutions and other government agencies regarding cultural property protection; works with heritage agencies better to prepare for natural and human-generated disasters; and, where possible, provides emergency and long-term support in conflict zones.

1.3 The UK National Committee of the Blue Shield (UKBS) has been working with staff in DCMS on the Draft Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill and has briefed and advised Peers and MPs as the Bill has progressed through Parliament. It has advised DCMS and the British Council on the development of the Cultural Protection Fund, and has worked closely with the UK MoD on the creation of a military capability for cultural property protection; it was a founder member of the Army’s Working Group on Cultural Property Protection. It has produced generic training materials for military personnel worldwide, on behalf of UNESCO.

2.0 The Bill. UKBS has taken a strong interest in the progress of the Bill and supports fully the present draft without the need for any further amendment. The UKBS is aware of concerns raised by the art trade but fully supports the views of Professor Roger O’Keefe, already submitted to DCMS, regarding these concerns. We hope the Bill Committee will not be distracted by these unfounded concerns.

2.1 We urge the Bill Committee to act as quickly as possible to ensure that the UK can ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and both its Protocols. If we act quickly the UK has the opportunity to become the first of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council to have ratified all three parts of the convention.

Submitted by Dr Paul Fox, Secretary UK National Committee of the Blue Shield

November 2016


Prepared 16th November 2016