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1954 Convention on the

Protection of Cultural Property
in the Event of Armed Conflict
and its Protocols
Military operations have often resulted in the destruction of irreplaceable cultural property, a loss not only to the country of origin
but also to the cultural heritage of all people. Recognizing the significance of this loss, the international community adopted the
1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (CCP). A Protocol dealing with
cultural property during times of occupation (P1) was adopted at the same time as the 1954 Convention. Although the 1954
Convention strengthens protection for cultural property, its provisions have not been implemented consistently. To address this
problem, a second Protocol to the 1954 Convention (P2) was adopted on 26 March 1999. In addition to these instruments, the
1977 Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions include provisions protecting cultural property (Protocol I, Art. 38, 53 and
85, and Protocol II, Art. 16). Ratification of each of the above-mentioned instruments is essential to preserving objects precious
to all humanity.

Cultural Property Protection: military advantage. (P2,

Art. 6);
Cultural property is any movable or ! Parties to the Convention must
immovable property of great safeguard their own cultural
(2) to attack cultural property,
importance to the cultural heritage of property against foreseeable
only when that property
all people, such as monuments of effects of armed conflict (CCP,
has, by its function, been
architecture or history, Art. 3).
made into a military
archaeological sites, works of art,
books or any building whose main ! States Parties must also objective and there is no
respect all cultural property by feasible alternative
and effective purpose is to contain
the following: available to obtain a similar
cultural property (CCP, Art. 1).
military advantage.
(1) not using cultural property Effective advance warning
for any purpose likely to must be given,
expose it to destruction or circumstances permitting
Cultural property should be damage in the event of (P2, Art. 6).
identified with the emblem of the armed conflict;
1954 Convention, pictured above Precautions:
(CCP, Art. 16, 17). (2) not directing any act of
hostility against cultural
! Parties to the Convention must,
to the maximum extent feasible,
property (CCP, Art. 4).
Systems of Protection either move cultural property
away from military objectives or
Parties to the Convention must avoid placing military objectives
protect all cultural property, whether ! The obligation to respect all near such property (P2, Art. 8).
their own or that situated in the cultural property, described
territory of other States Parties. The above, may be waived on the
! Parties to a conflict must do
various systems that provide everything feasible to protect
basis of "imperative military
protection for cultural property are cultural property, including
necessity" (CCP, Art. 4).
described below: refraining from an attack that
! This waiver may be invoked: may cause incidental damage
General Protection (P2, Art. 7).
(1) to use cultural property for
All cultural property must be purposes likely to endanger
afforded, at minimum, "general it, only if there is no
protection", as described in the feasible alternative
Convention. available to obtain a similar
Occupied Territory military sites, and the Party offences under domestic law (P2,
which has control over the Art. 15):
! Under the Convention, States property has formally
Parties occupying foreign declared that it will not be
territory must preserve cultural so used. (1) making cultural property under
property in that territory (CCP, enhanced protection the
Art. 5).
! Cultural property granted
object of attack;
enhanced protection by the
! The 1954 Protocol requires Committee for the Protection of (2) using cultural property under
States Parties occupying Cultural Property in the Event of enhanced protection or its
territory during armed conflict to Armed Conflict is placed on the immediate surroundings in
prevent the exportation of "List of Cultural Property under support of military action;
cultural property from that Enhanced Protection" (P2, Art.
territory (P1, Art. 1). However, if 11). (3) extensive destruction or
cultural property is exported, appropriation of protected
States Parties must return it at Protection: cultural property;
the close of the hostilities (P1,
Art. 3). ! Parties holding property (4) making protected cultural
included on the List must not property the object of attack;
Special protection use such property or its
immediate surroundings in (5) theft, pillage or
The 1954 Convention provides a
support of military action (P2, misappropriation of, or acts of
system of "special protection", which
Art. 12). There is no exception vandalism directed against,
resulted in only limited success. In
to this obligation. protected cultural property.
response to the limitations of the
1954 system, the 1999 Protocol ! Parties to the Convention must
introduces a new system of refrain from attack against Each State Party must ensure that
"enhanced protection" (see below). property on the List (P2, Art. its legislation establishes jurisdiction
12). when the offence is committed in its
If property has been granted both territory, when the alleged offender
special and enhanced protection, Exception: is a national of that State, and — in
only enhanced protection applies relation to the first three offences —
(P2, Art. 4). ! The obligation not to attack when the offence is committed
property on the List does not abroad by a non-national.
Enhanced protection apply if such property has, by
virtue of its use, become a
The 1999 Protocol provides military objective. Attack is Dissemination
"enhanced protection" of certain permitted only if it is the only
cultural objects. feasible means of terminating Parties to the 1954 Convention and
such use and if precautions are its Protocols must disseminate the
Criteria for Protection: taken to minimize damage to treaty provisions as widely as
the property. Effective advance possible, seeking to strengthen
! To be granted "enhanced warning must be given, appreciation and respect for cultural
protection", cultural property circumstances permitting (P2, property among the general
must meet the following three Art. 13). population (CCP, Art. 25; P2, Art.
criteria (P2, Art. 10): 30). Particular effort should be
taken to disseminate information
(1) it is cultural heritage of the Criminal Responsibility and among the armed forces and
greatest importance to Jurisdiction personnel engaged in the protection
humanity; of cultural property.
Parties to the Convention must take
all necessary steps to prosecute and
(2) it is protected by domestic
impose sanctions on all persons
measures that recognize its
who violate its provisions (CCP, Art.
cultural and historical value 09/2002
and ensure the highest
level of protection;
States party to the 1999 Protocol
(3) it is not used for military must ensure that the following are
purposes or to shield