Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

The foundationaìs of the 1954 Hague Convention were laid in two previous conferences of 1899 and 1907.

However, the widespread and massive destruction of cultural heritage during WW II, and the request for more detailed policies by many countries on a global scale, speeded up the process the organization of an ad hoc convention.


Below you can find the key measures that the States Parties have to respect to meet the scopes of the Convention:

  • 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.

  • 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.

THE 1999 SECOND PROTOCOL Criminal acts committed against cultural property in the course of the many conflicts that took place in 1980s and 1990s highlighted the need to improve the 1954 Hague Convention. Therefore, a second protocol was issued in 1999 providing the following updates:

  • It creates a new category of “enhanced protection” for cultural property of the greatest importance for humanity.

  • It increases the reactiveness of the Convention, by defining sanctions to be imposed for serious violations with respect to cultural property and defines the conditions in which individual criminal responsibility shall apply.

  • It establishes a twelve-member Intergovernmental Committee to oversee the implementation of the Second Protocol and de facto the Convention.

"... any damage to cultural property, irrespective of the people it belongs to, is a damage to the cultural heritage of all humanity, because every people contributes to the world's culture..."


One of the main practical outcomes of the Hague convention is the establishment of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) and works as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross to provide an emergency response to cultural property at risk from armed conflict.