Wednesday 24 June 2015

Hague Convention: Putting the Government to the test

SIR – We welcome the Government’s announcement that it is to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict and that it intends to create a fund for “the protection of cultural heritage and recovery from acts of destruction”.
However, we are concerned that there appears to be no timescale attached to the commitment to ratify – a commitment that successive governments have made, and failed to deliver on, since 2004. There is also no mention of the important second protocol to the 1954 convention.
Ratification is not going to stop the appalling human tragedy that is unfolding in Syria and northern Iraq, nor is it going to stop ISIL destroying our common cultural inheritance. But it will, finally, bring Britain into line with the international community by clearly recognising international law that identifies such acts as war crimes.
We hope that the Government’s commitment will lead to swift action. 
Professor Peter G Stone
Chairman, UK National Committee of the Blue Shield
Sir Barry Cunliffe
Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology, Oxford University
Professor Eleanor Robson
Chairman of Council, British Institute for the Study of Iraq
Dr Mike Heyworth
Director, Council for British Archaeology
Julian Radcliffe
Chairman, International Art and Antique Loss Register

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