U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Thomas C. Shcur from the 203rd Military Police Battalion, 49th MP Brigade, during a joint community policing patrol in Basra, Iraq, April 3, 2010. Schur is a member of the Police Transition and Security Team, which is responsible for training the Iraqi police forces.  Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Adelita Mead.

Lords call for ratification of 1954 Hague Convention

Patrick Steel, 14.05.2014
Government blames lack of parliamentary time for non-ratification
Nicholas Trench, speaking in the House of Lords on Monday, called for the government to ratify of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

John Gardiner, responding for the government, said it had not been possible to secure the parliamentary time needed to pass the relevant legislation as the government had prioritised economic recovery and reform.

He said the important thing in practical terms is that UK armed forces are “very conscious of the protocol and convention” and that they adhere to it.

Trench’s call follows shadow culture secretary Helen Goodman’s comments, in a piece for The Guardian last month, in which she said: “The UK is one of the only western powers not to have ratified the convention.

“I am calling on the new culture secretary, Sajid Javid, to introduce legislation in the next Queen's speech to ratify the convention…. Labour will back such a move if he agrees to this. There can be no excuse: the legislation was prepared by the last Labour government; the coalition has run out of ideas. Let's use the final year of this parliament to do something really useful on a cross-party basis.”

The Museums Association has also been advocating the ratification of the convention for some time, and Sharon Heal, the head of publications at the MA, said: “This is an uncontroversial convention, and it is about time the government ratified it.”

126 states have ratified the convention since 1954. The UK is one of only four states, including Andorra and the Philippines, to have signed the convention but not ratified it. The Draft Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill, which would see ratification of the convention, was created in 2008, but has not so far become law.