Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Fiona Macalister FIIC ACR FMA FSA(Scot) FRSA, Independent Preventive Conservator (CPB 13)

1. I am responding to the call for evidence as an individual, a conservator, who has worked in the heritage sector, largely museums and historic houses, but also for libraries and archives in terms of disaster planning, for over 30 years, and as a member of the following professional bodies: International Council for Museums (ICOM), Institute of Conservation (Icon), Museums Association (MA), ICOMOS (ICOMOS-ICORP international committee member), the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and IIC. I am a committee member of ICOM-UK and UK Blue Shield.

2. The Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill is very welcome, coming particularly at a time of ever increasing tension. The Bill complements and gives greater weight and context to the very welcome Cultural Protection Fund launched earlier this year and the post of UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at University of Newcastle.

3. The ratification by the UK of the Hague Convention 1954 and the two protocols at this time is significant in helping to ensure protection of cultural property when UK military operates abroad and demonstrates the UK's commitment to the protection of such culture. Important both in protecting cultural property of world significance but also in the protection of sites and culture as embedded and loved by communities who identify with such sites or cultural property.

4. Training of the armed forces in cultural protection is greatly welcomed, as is the establishment of a specialist unit within the UK military (Article 7). The heritage sector could have a role in delivering elements of the training required to help prepare the military for co-operation with civil authorities overseas when deployed.

5. For the identification of cultural property within the UK to be protected, through enhanced protection, thorough consultation would be required with organisations such as Historic Environment Scotland, Historic England, Cadw and Northern Ireland Environment Agency, ideally with input from the professional bodies where appropriate. It was good to see that reference to the protection of cultural property within Northern Ireland was made during the debate of the Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Consideration should be given to establishing a committee with sufficient knowledge and objectivity to oversee this process.

6. The respect of personnel involved in the protection of cultural property is greatly welcomed (Article 15).

7. In protecting sites in the UK the aim of the Bill complements a number of aims of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, in the requirement for planning for emergencies and presents an opportunity for greater collaboration, and therefore more effective protection, between the heritage sector, emergency planning and resilience officers, the military, first responders and local communities.

November 2016

 

Prepared 16th November 2016