The United Kingdom has joined 128 other countries in becoming a party to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, often referred to as the 1954 Hague Convention. H.E. Matthew Lodge, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to UNESCO, delivered to Director-General Irina Bokova the instrument of ratification today, on the same day that he officially submitted his credentials as the new ambassador.
The Director-General welcomed the move. “This is very good news for the protection of heritage in times of conflict, and I see this also as a mark of a renewed commitment of the United Kingdom to the mandate and work of UNESCO.”
The UK also acceded to the two Protocols to the Convention (1954 and 1999) which add further safeguards for protecting cultural heritage important to all humankind.
The accession to the Second Protocol will make the United Kingdom the second permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to be party to this agreement, following the accession by France in March 2017 to this instrument.
The United Kingdom’s ratification of the Hague Convention and the accession to the two Protocols is another significant step for further strengthening the legal framework for protecting cultural heritage at an international level, following adoption of UNSC Resolution 2347 by the United Nations 15-member Security Council, earlier this year, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom. The resolution, unanimously passed, affirmed that attacks on cultural heritage sites might constitute a war crime and their perpetrators must be brought to justice. It was the first UN Security Council resolution of its kind.
The United Kingdom first announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and accede to its two Protocols, including the two protocols in 2004. The Cultural Property in Armed Conflict Bill passed in the upper chamber, the House of Lords, on 19 May 2016 paving the way for the necessary domestic legislation to be adopted.