Sector urged to push for ratification of Hague convention

Heritage professionals called on to write to MPs
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Museum and heritage professionals have been urged to keep pressure on MPs to support the ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention and subsequent protocols for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.

The UK signed the convention in 1954 but remains the largest western power that has not yet ratified it. A draft Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill was drawn up in 2008 but is yet to make it into legislation.

In a presentation at the International Council of Museums (Icom) UK AGM last week, Peter Stone, chairman of the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield, said failure to ratify the bill was hurting the UK’s standing in the international community.

The bill was not included in the most recent Queen’s speech in June this year. The government said it had not been possible to secure parliamentary time given its other legislative priorities, but said the UK’s armed forces adhered to the principles of the convention.

Stone said: “There’s no truth whatsoever in the government’s plea that there’s no time in the parliamentary calendar to draw up the bill.”

He said ratifying the convention would send out a strong signal of the UK’s commitment to protecting cultural heritage at a time of increasing instability in many regions, which has resulted in widespread looting and destruction of cultural property.

Stone called on cultural heritage professionals to write to MPs asking them to support ratification and seek parliamentary time for the bill to be brought before parliament.

He said: “Write to your local MPs, continue the pressure. It’s not a controversial bill, there’s cross party support for it.”

A template letter to MPs is available to download on Icom’s website.

Stone went on to describe how the Blue Shield has been proactively working with armed forces and Nato to better integrate cultural property protection into the military’s operations and pre-deployment training.

As a result of this work, Nato is due to publish a booklet in October entitled Cultural Property Protection Makes Sense.

Links

Icom template letter to MPs



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