Following the appalling destruction of cultural property during the Second World War the international community came together in 1954 and produced The Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Since its creation, it has had two supplements, or ‘Protocols’, the most recent in 1999 in response to the war in the former Yugoslavia which identified the Blue Shield as an international NGO Advisory Body to the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property In the event of Armed Conflict.
The Hague Convention is the primary piece of International Humanitarian Law concerning the protection of cultural heritage during conflict. However, despite numerous examples of the abuse and destruction of cultural heritage, the UK government remains one of the few governments active on the world stage – and the only full-time member of the UN Security Council – yet to ratify the Convention.
In order to ratify the Convention national legislation has to be passed. Although a Draft Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill was scrutinised by DCMS Select Committee in the summer of 2008, and found to require only minor modifications, no time was found for it in the next session. Sadly, despite constant requests, and cross-Party support, no time has been found since.
The CBA is calling on all of its members to help drive Ministers to action on this and write to their local MP. We have prepared a template letter which you can complete and send to your MP to add to the growing pressure to ratify this important piece of legislation. The more you personalise the template to make it your own, the greater impact it is likely to have with your MP.
If you do not know the name of your local MP, or how to contact them, you can find out at the parliament website: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/