ARA is signatory to letters urging ratification of 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

UK is 'most significant military power...not to have ratified it'

The ARA is a signatory to letters urging the UK Government to ratify the 1954 UNESCO Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two protocols of 1954 and 1999.


The letters emphasise that the UK is the ‘most significant military power, and the only one with extensive military involvements abroad, not to have ratified it’

The lead government department – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – is committed to the ratification but there is as yet no guarantee of Parliamentary time to enable it to take place.


Letters have been sent to the Secretaries of State for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs,  and Defence to urge their support.


Signatories to the letter include: The President, British Academy; General Secretary and CEO, Society of Antiquaries; Chair of Council, Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals; Chair, the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland); Director, Museums Association; and Chair, the National Trust.


A letter has also been sent to the Independent.  The letter reads:

Sir

The March 2003 invasion of Iraq, by a coalition led by the USA and the UK, failed to prevent the immediate and appalling looting of museums, libraries, archives, and art galleries across Iraq, followed by years of looting of archaeological sites across the country.

On 14 May 2004 the UK Government announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocols of 1954 and 1999. Today, on the ninth anniversary of the invasion, it has still to honour this commitment. This is despite all-Party support for ratification and recently reiterated support for ratification from the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The USA ratified the Convention in 2009. This leaves the UK as arguably the most significant military power, and certainly the only power with extensive military involvements abroad, not to have ratified it.

The Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (the ministry responsible for this issue) has recently informed us of his determination to find parliamentary time to pass the necessary legislation to enable the UK to ratify the Convention and its Protocols.  We applaud this initiative and urge the Government to support the Secretary of State and to pass the legislation before we reach the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Yours sincerely