Friday 30 March 2012

UK Must Ratify the 1954 Hague Convention

This letter was published in the British newspaper, the 'Independent' on Friday March 30th:

Back the world ban on looting
The March 2003 invasion of Iraq by a coalition led by the US and the UK failed to prevent the immediate and appalling looting of museums, libraries, archives and art galleries, followed by years of looting of archaeological sites across the country.

On 14 May 2004, the UK Government announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and its protocols of 1954 and 1999.

Today, on the ninth anniversary of the invasion, it has still to honour this commitment. This is despite all-party support for ratification and recently reiterated support for ratification from the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The USA ratified the Convention in 2009. This leaves the UK as arguably the most significant military power, and certainly the only power with extensive military involvements abroad, not to have ratified it.

The Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (the ministry responsible for the issue) has recently informed us of his determination to find parliamentary time to pass the necessary legislation to enable the UK to ratify the Convention and its protocols. We applaud this initiative and urge the Government to support the Secretary of State and to pass the legislation before we reach the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Peter Stone - Professor of Heritage Studies, Newcastle University

Nick Poole - Chair, International Council of Museums UK

Margaret Greeves - Chair, Collections Trust

Professor Sir Adam Roberts - President of the British Academy

Sir Simon Jenkins - Chair, National Trust

John S C Lewis - General Secretary and CEO, Society of Antiquaries

John Dolan - Chair of Council, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

Martin Taylor - Chair, Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland)

Sue Cole - UK &  Ireland Committee of the Blue Shield

Dr Mike Heyworth - Director, Council for British Archaeology

Peter Hinton - Chief Executive, Institute for Archaeologists

Mark Taylor - Director, Museums Association

Dr Eleanor Robson - Incoming Chair, British Institute for the Study of Iraq

Mike Williams - Secretary, the Nautical Archaeology Society

Jane Sillis - Director, Engage
I guess Dr Roger Bland was inaccessible (sorting out his slides for his US trip perhaps) and where is Lord Renfrew's signature? There are no representatives of the antiquities trade associations here either, were they asked to support this initiative?

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