General Studies IART AND CULTURE

1954 Hague Convention: Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict


Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has pitched for protective measures to preserve Ukraine’s endangered cultural heritage in light of Russia’s invasion over Ukraine.

About Hague Convention:

  • The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict is the first international treaty that focuses exclusively on the protection of cultural property in armed conflict.
  • It was signed at The Hague, Netherlands, on 14 May 1954 and entered into force on 7 August 1956. As of now, it has been ratified by 133 states.
  • The provisions of the 1954 Convention were supplemented and clarified by two protocols concluded in 1954 and 1999.
  • The Convention defined cultural property as “movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or history, whether religious or secular; archaeological sites….”, etc. The signatories, referred to in the Convention as “the High Contracting Parties”, committed themselves to protecting, safeguarding, and having respect for cultural property.
  •  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is primarily responsible for the dissemination and monitoring of compliance.
  • In addition to rules designed to ensure the protection and respect of cultural property during an armed conflict, these agreements also provide for security measures to be implemented in times of peace.
  • India is a party to this convention.

Obligations under the convention-

The commitments made by the States Parties to the Convention serve to preserve cultural heritage through the implementation of the following measures:

  • Adopting preventive measures such as preparing inventories, planning emergency measures to protect property against the risk of fire or the collapse of buildings, and preparing the removal of cultural property to places of safety.
  • Developing initiatives which guarantee respect for cultural property situated on their own territory or on the territory of other States Parties. This involves refraining from using such property in any manner that might expose it to destruction or deterioration in the event of armed conflict, and by refraining from all acts of hostility directed against it.
  • Registering cultural property of very high importance on the International Register of Cultural Property under Special Protection in order to obtain special protection for such property.
  • Marking certain important buildings and monuments with a distinctive emblem of the Convention.
  • Providing a place for eventual refuge to shelter movable cultural property.
  • Establishing special units within the military forces responsible for the protection of cultural property.
  • Setting sanctions for breaches of the Convention.
  • Promoting the Convention among the general public and through target groups such as cultural heritage professionals, and military or law-enforcement agencies.

When has cultural property been targeted earlier?

There are several examples from World War II and later.

  • During the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991-92 by the Yugoslav People’s Army, the old town of Dubrovnik in Croatia was targeted in an attempt to wipe out Croatian history and cultural heritage. Subsequently, during the Croat-Bosniak war, Croat paramilitary forces destroyed the 16th century Stari Most bridge in Mostar in today’s Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1993.
  • In 2001, the Taliban destroyed statutes of the Buddha that had been carved into sandstone cliffs in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD.
  • In 2006, the UN and the Cambodian government established the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to prosecute the destruction of Cambodia’s cultural assets that included mosques, churches and temples along with other sites of cultural significance.
  • Between 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State destroyed several places of religious and cultural significance. In 2015, the IS captured and destroyed the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is the Blue Shield Emblem?

  • Need: Article 6 of the 1954 Hague Convention states that cultural property may bear a distinctive emblem so as to facilitate its recognition.
  • Origin: In pursuance of this, the Blue Shield, formerly the International Committee of the Blue Shield was founded in 1996.
  • About: It is a non-governmental, non-profit, international organisation committed to the protection of heritage across the world.
    • The Blue Shield network, often referred to as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.
  • Function: The Blue Shield is a network of committees of dedicated individuals across the world that is committed to protect the world’s cultural heritage from threats such as armed conflict and natural disasters.
    • This includes museums, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audio-visual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage.
  • Associated Issue: Some States have refrained from marking their cultural property, arguing that it would make that property more vulnerable to attack by an enemy determined to destroy its symbols of national identity.
    • Unfortunately, this proved to be the case during the war in the former Yugoslavia where cultural property marked with the Blue Shield was intentionally targeted.


  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN)
  • It aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture.
  • It has 193 member states and 11 associate members, as well as partners in the nongovernmental, intergovernmental, and private sector.
  • Headquartered at the World Heritage Centre in Paris, France.
  • UNESCO was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.
  • UNESCO’s founding mission, which was shaped by the Second World War, is to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights by facilitating collaboration and dialogue among nations.
  • It pursues this objective through five major program areas: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture and communication/information.
  • UNESCO sponsors projects that improve literacy, provide technical training and education, advance science, protect independent media and press freedom, preserve regional and cultural history, and promote cultural diversity.
  • It assists in the translation and dissemination of world literature, helps establish and secure World Heritage Sites of cultural and natural importance, works to bridge the worldwide digital divide, and creates inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication

Major Initiatives of UNESCO:

  • Man and Biosphere Programme
    • World Heritage Programme
    • Global Geopark Network
    • Network of Creative Cities
    • Atlas of World Languages in Danger


  • UNESCO Science Report
    • Global Education Monitoring Report
    • State of the Education Report for India

Source: Indian Express

You can find many articles on ART AND CULTURE (part of GS I) in our website. Go through these articles share with your friends and post your views in comment section.

Leave a Reply

Open chat
Hello Dear Aspirant,
Join our whatsapp group here to get Daily Newspapers, Magazines, Monthly, Question Banks and much more..
Just ping us your Name..
See you then..!!!