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Cultural Property Protection Act Receives Royal Assent

After 50 years of waiting to be ratified, the 1954 Hague Convention protecting cultural property has finally received Royal Assent

The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was created as part of a series of international treaties on the law of war. These treaties emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, in response to destruction of cultural property during the conflicts. The Convention reflects a view that all cultural property is part of ‘the cultural heritage of all mankind’, and so must be protected.

Despite the Hague Convention being written up in 1954, the UK government had not yet ratified it. Finally on 22nd February 2017 the bill received Royal Assent and now has become an actual law. 

The bill, which covers the whole of the UK, has now:

  • Created offences to protect cultural property (as defined by the Convention) in the event of armed conflict
  • Created offences relating to the unauthorised use of the “Blue Shield” – the emblem used to identify cultural property protected under the Convention and its Protocols
  • Made it an offence to deal in cultural property illegally exported from occupied territory
  • Introduced immunity from seizure for cultural property which is being transported to, or through, the UK for safekeeping

Alison Richmond, Icon CEO said: Icon is delighted that at long last this bill has been made into law. It is particularly important that the UK is signing at this time when cultural heritage is at risk due to conflicts across many war zones. 

Lead Image: Houses of Parliament / Creative Commons 


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