About The Blue Shield
The Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. It is the protective emblem specified in the 1954 Hague Convention (Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict) for marking cultural sites to give them protection from attack in the event of armed conflict. The Blue Shield network consists of organizations dealing with museums, archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, as well as monuments and sites.
The International Committee of the Blue Shield, founded in 1996, comprises representatives of the five Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in this field:
- the International Council on Archives (www.ica.org),
- the International Council of Museums (www.icom.museum),
- the International Council on Monuments and Sites (www.icomos.org), and
- the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (www.ifla.org)
- the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (www.ccaaa.org)
National Blue Shield Committees have been founded in a number of countries. The Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS), founded in December 2008, is coordinating and strengthening international efforts to protect cultural property at risk of destruction in armed conflicts or natural disasters. The ANCBS has its headquarters in The Hague.
The 1954 Hague Convention (Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict)
The Convention is the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts.It regulates the conduct of nations during war and military occupation in order to assure the protection of cultural sites, monuments and repositories, including museums, libraries and archives. Written in the wake of the widespread cultural devastation perpetrated by Nazi Germany during World War II, and modeled on instructions given by General Eisenhower to aid in the preservation of Europe’s cultural legacy, the Hague Convention is the oldest international agreement to address exclusively cultural heritage preservation. The First Protocol was adopted in 1954 with the Convention. The Second Protocol was introduced in 1999 and came into force in 2004.
The Hague Convention covers immovable and movable cultural property, including monuments of architecture, art or history, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest, as well as scientific collections of all kinds regardless of their origin or ownership.
Why is the 1954 Hague Convention so Important?
The States which are party to the Convention benefit from a network of more than 100 States that have undertaken to lessen the consequences of armed conflict for cultural heritage and to take preventive measures for such protection not only in time of hostility (when it is usually too late), but also in time of peace, using a variety of measures:
- Safeguard and respect cultural property during both international and non-international armed conflicts;
- Consider registering a limited number of refuges, monumental centers and other immovable cultural property of very great importance in the International Register of Cultural Property under Special Protection and obtain special protection for such property;
- Consider marking certain important buildings and monuments with a special protective emblem of the Convention (the Blue Shield);
- Set up special units within the military forces to be responsible for the protection of cultural heritage; and
- Penalize violations of the Convention and promote widely the Convention within the general public and target groups such as cultural heritage professionals, the military or law-enforcement agencies.