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Culture and Conflict

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A country’s cultural heritage is crucial to its nationhood and is a source of pride and dignity. During armed conflicts the destruction of cultural property, the theft and looting of museums and archaeological sites and the displacement of people and communities can have a catastrophic and lasting impact on a country’s cultural heritage.

The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, also known as the Hague Convention, provides a system of protection of cultural property during both international and internal armed conflicts. The Hague Convention identifies a special protective emblem of the Convention, the Blue Shield, which is to be used to identify property that comes under the protection of the Convention.

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) works to raise awareness about the importance of protecting cultural heritage during and in the aftermath of armed conflicts. The UKNC is working with partners to encourage the UK Government to ratify and implement the Hague Convention. As part of this work, the UKNC has sponsored a travelling exhibition on the destruction of cultural property in Iraq during the 2003 war. In 2009 the UK and Ireland Blue Shield Committee, the UK’s country-level arm of the International Committee of the Blue Shield, became a standing Committee of the UKNC Culture Committee.

Select from the below headings to find out more about the Hague Convention, the International Committee of the Blue Shield, and our work in this area.

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International Committee of the Blue Shield
Thumb: International Committee of the Blue Shield
The cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, the International Commission of the Blue Shield identifies and protects sites of cultural significance during conflicts
Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
Thumb: Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
The Convention provides a system of protection for cultural property in situations of international and internal conflicts


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