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Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)

  • Drafted: 14 May 1954 (The Hague)
  • Entry into force: 7 August 1956
  • UK Status: The UK has not ratified this Convention.

The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict or the “Hague Convention”, was adopted at The Hague in 1954 in the wake of the massive destruction of cultural property during the Second World War.

The Convention provides a system of protection of cultural property during both international and internal armed conflicts. The Convention defines cultural property as "movable and immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people”. This may include monuments, architecture, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological significance.

The Convention’s First and Second Protocols

The Hague Convention has two ‘Protocols’, or optional add-ons to the original Convention. These protocols were created to help strengthen the Convention and its implementation.

The First Protocol was adopted in 1954 alongside the Convention and relates to the export of moveable items of cultural property during occupation. The protocol specifically prohibits the appropriation of cultural property as war reparation.

The destruction of cultural property during the conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s highlighted the need for a number of improvements in the implementation of the Hague Convention. A review of the Convention was initiated in 1991, resulting in the adoption of a Second Protocol in 1999.

Among other measures, the Second Protocol specifies the sanctions to be imposed for serious violations of the Convention and defines the conditions in which individual criminal responsibility shall apply. It also establishes a 12 member Intergovernmental Committee to oversee the implementation of the Second Protocol and de facto the Convention.

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