Politics

International Protection of Cultural Property: The Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention 20 years on

This year sees the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the major international instrument to protect and preserve cultural heritage

April 25th, 2019
Maria Gobbi, News from Berlin
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The “Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict” represents the will of the international community to cooperate in order to preserve cultural heritage.

In 1954, after the incredible damage and looting of cultural properties occurred during WWII, the nations of the world gathered in The Hague to draft the first international treaty dedicated exclusively to the protection of cultural heritage. The signing of this text has been the first step to recognize the importance of cultural heritage not only for the country that hosts it, but for the whole world. Indeed, the main innovation brought about by the Convention is the fact that, even if state parties are responsible for their heritage, in case they are unwilling or unable to protect it, the international community may intervene to save it.

The 1954 Convention is a first step towards the international protection of cultural property, however it was not enough to guarantee the result, a problem which became clear especially after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Yugoslavian Civil War. For this reason, in 1999 the Second Protocol has been signed, in order to improve the effectiveness of the Convention. The Second Protocol introduced higher levels of protection, and to date it counts 82 state parties.

Nowadays, the renewed use of cultural heritage as a target during conflicts makes the international community wonder what has been achieved in the past years, and what can be improved for the future. To reflect about this topic, UNESCO and the Government of Switzerland have organized a Conference of commemoration of the 20th anniversary, which takes place Thursday, 25 April 2019 - 10:00am to Friday, 26 April 2019 - 6:00pm in Geneva. During this meeting, the first of its kind, State representatives and international experts will discuss the challenges and accomplishments of the past 20 years, hoping to strengthen the role of the Convention and to encourage new states to sign it.

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News from Berlin