Statement: UKNC welcomes passing of Cultural Property Armed Conflict Act

The UK National Commission for UNESCO welcomes the passing of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Act today (23 February 2017). The Act will enable the UK Government to ratify UNESCO’s 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and accede to its two Protocols.

Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Beth Taylor, said:

“The passing of the Act is an important milestone on the road to ratification, and with the ongoing destruction of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and cultural heritage globally, it signals the UK’s ongoing commitment to protecting cultural heritage.”

UKNC’s Culture Director, Helen Maclagan, said:

“We welcome the Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Act as part of the UK Government’s wider programme to protect cultural property. This includes the British Council’s £3 million Cultural Protection Fund, the British Museum’s Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme, and the establishment of the new Cultural Property Protection Unit in the British Army. We are delighted to see the UK positioned to act as a leading international player in the protection of cultural property in conflict situations. ”

Agreed by the international community in the devastating aftermath of the Second World War, the Hague Convention and its Protocols make up the primary international humanitarian law regarding the protection of cultural property during armed conflict.

The passing of the Cultural Property Act means that attacks on cultural property are a criminal offence and ensures that all cultural property that is protected by the Hague Convention is easily identifiable with the emblem of the Blue Shield. Professor Peter Stone OBE is Chair of the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield, and also the UNESCO Chairholder in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at the University of Newcastle.